Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
As disciples of Jesus we desire to keep or “tend” our hearts much like a garden. Proverbs says we must do this with vigilance, or a constant state of watchfulness. Why is this important? Because of the second half of the statement in Proverbs 4.23…“for from it flow the springs of life.” Don’t springs of life sound wonderful? Not just life, but springs of life flowing through us to other people. This verse brings to mind gardening. When we garden, we watch vigilantly for two things that hinder fruitful growth that we remove when they appear: weeds and pests. We also put good items into the garden that will fertilize the soil and feed the plants to produce a good crop.
What is “good fruit” for the garden of our heart and what are the “weeds and pests?” Good fruit is a good relationship with God and good relationships with others (Mark 12:29-31). We are God’s children and He wants to have a relationship with us. Many times we don’t recognize who we are. If you really are God’s son or daughter, think of all the implications! God desires your presence, much like a good father loves to spend time with his children. Instead of allowing our identity as children of God to dictate our relationship with God, we often allow our behavior to dictate how we interact with God. We must tend our hearts so that we are able to remove things that cause us to have barriers in that relationship with our Father and add things that encourage the relationship.
One of the weeds or pests we must remove that cause barriers to our relationship with our Father is unforgiveness. The power of the choice to forgive or not, is amazing, it affects relationships beyond what we can imagine. Though forgiveness is simple, it is not easy. When we forgive we must first admit that we were wounded. Next we must admit that we have been holding something against another. Then we must put our desire to be justified aside. We must be willing to not dwell on the wound… it’s a process. But the power of forgiveness is incredible. Forgiveness heals our own heart, it restores our relationships with others, and deepens our relationship with the Father.
Another barrier, or weed, we must remove in our relationship with God is the lies of the enemy. The New Testament calls the devil the “father of lies” and says “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). How do you identify the lies of the devil? Simply compare what you hear or think against scripture. If a thought comes into your mind about God or about yourself, compare it to the truth of scripture. If it does not measure up to that standard, it is a lie and must be rejected. James 4:7 says “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” How is this accomplished? We must recognize the power that resides with in us. The New Testament tells us the Holy Spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit in all His power dwells in you, this is how we have the power to resist the devil and reject his lies.
A third “pest” is our reaction to our sinful behavior. Many times we identify ourselves with our sin rather than with our new identity as a child of God. This creates a barrier because we allow shame to enter into our hearts. Remove the shame and run to your Father! Don’t hide as Adam and Eve did but run to your father and ask forgiveness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to remove the barriers to our relationship with God.
Again, we must add good fertilizer to the soil of our hearts to encourage growth. The first thing we can add to our heart is daily time with the Lord. This looks like daily going to our Father and asking Him to remind us who He is and also who He made us to be. Second, spend time talking with the Father in a two-way conversation. He wants to converse with us. We must resist the temptation to simply submit prayer requests to Him. We must learn to listen for guidance and for His thoughts as well. Third, spend time reading the scripture, allowing the truth to enter your heart so you can recognize the lies of the enemy. Above all, we must walk with Jesus at all times (John 15:1-11). We must learn to forgive right away, we must learn to let Jesus guide us in our interactions, we must recognize who God is in our life (Father, Lord, and King), and we must talk with God every day. This is how we “tend” our heart; this is how we live with a heart that flows with springs of life.
Ted is a father of five, our families pastor at AntiochA2, and helps lead our prayer ministry. He loves Jesus, being a husband, being a father, and loving people. Ted enjoys hanging out with his sons and enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Ted has a desire to see families wholly following Jesus with passion and being transformed by His love. Ted believes that as we make disciples of Jesus who truly understand their new identity in Him, the world can’t help but be dramatically changed by the local church.