“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
I have begun a new journey of discovering who God is and how I am supposed to live my life. My textbooks? Psalms and Proverbs. The palms teach us about God, His miracles and His character. The proverbs teach us about the Christian, his nature, his sin and his purpose. I have set a new goal of reading Psalms and Proverbs daily, finishing both every month, which requires that I read 5 chapters of Psalms and 1 chapter of Proverbs each day. Some months, I will have to read more than that to finish (30-day months and February).
Today, the above proverb resounded with me and, amazingly, many verses in the psalms I read coordinated with this “heart” theme.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Jesus echoed the proverb many times over in His teaching. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34); “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’ ” (Matt. 15:18); “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6.45). And those are probably only a few examples.
Therefore, we can follow every sinful thought/feeling up and out of the heart. Every thought and feeling is expressed in some way: speech, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, conduct and behavior. When your husband angers you, maybe you don’t yell at him, but you withhold your affection for a while, or slam doors and cabinets, or punish him with silence. When he saddens you, maybe you don’t approach him in tears, but you mope around the house or comfort yourself with food.
I am a cabinet-slamming, comfort-food-eating, pout-er. That is how I usually express anger and sadness, unfortunately. But it is not healthy to allow these negative emotions to dwell in my heart. The proverb says my heart is “the wellspring” of my life! An angry or sad heart yields an angry or sad life. Surely you’ve met women like this… you wonder how their heart even beats, it seems so calloused and rough. I do not want to be that woman, that complaining woman whose face is void of laugh lines, but filled with valleys from constantly crinkling her nose and eyebrows!
Where is my hope, then? In God! He can redeem my negative emotions! If I open my heart to His teaching and discipline, I can learn to be filled with joy, instead. I have seen this miracle at work in my life, when God has convicted me of pride and taught me humility. He illuminates my sin and folly and brings me to repentance.
Are you asking how this happens? The answer is prayer. When I get angry, I pray. After a few minutes of ranting to God about whatever my husband has “done to anger me,” the inevitable happens: my sin and folly is exposed before me. Oh. So it’s not his fault, but mine? So it doesn’t matter what he did–it’s my reaction that is the problem? I repent to God and ask for the strength to humble myself before my husband and ask his forgiveness, too. And when I do that, another miraculous thing happens. Usually, my husband is encouraged by my humble heart to also repent of his sin and folly!
Whether we want to admit it or not, our actions are usually the outbursts of our hearts. Every emotion can be followed out of the heart, and most often, out of the mouth. We can cut off this highway by erecting a barricade of prayer, and God will redirect traffic appropriately. Blessed is He!
Tomorrow: tracing actions and speech back to the heart.