Guard Your Heart I: Don’t Put Your Two Cents In

Introduction:
There are many things in life we need to guard. We need to guard our families and friends, investments and assets, and spiritual, physical, and mental well-being. The Bible repeatedly instructs us to guard the faith, along with the innocent, oppressed, and poor. But there is one thing we need to guard above of everything else because if we don’t guard this one thing we will be utterly incapable to guard anything else. And that one thing is our hearts. As we start our new “Guard Your Heart” series we’ll see why, and how, to guard our hearts. Our banner Scripture is Proverbs 4:23,
 
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
 
Solomon’s Advice
The ancient book of “Proverbs” was written primarily by Solomon, King David’s oldest son and successor to his throne. Proverbs is known foremost as a “manual of practical wisdom.” As any good parent would, Solomon, the worldwide wisest wise guy, gives loving advice to his son (not sure which of his 100 kids were boys or to which of his sons he was referring). Beginning in 4:20 he councils
 
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
 
The Heart of the Matter
To guard something is to defend it from attack or to protect it from hostile forces. Why is Solomon telling his son to guard his heart above all? Obviously, Solomon is not talking about our physical hearts here, although we really do need to guard them from things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and arterial sclerosis. He’s talking about our spiritual hearts. Biblically speaking, the “heart” is the center of our emotions, desires, will, and motivations. There are 826 passages that refer to the heart as the primary spiritual organ because it, beyond any other singular factor, determines the course and direction of our lives. The heart is the core of our being and doing. It’s the source and energy of our lives. This is why Solomon calls it, “The wellspring of life.” Other translations of Proverbs 4:23 include
 
KJV
Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.
 
 
ESV
Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flows the springs of life.
 
NLT
Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.
 
MESSAGE
Keep vigilant watch over your heart that’s where life starts.
 
I like to think of our hearts as the engine of our lives. Regardless if it is 2,4,6,8 cylinders we need to maintain our hearts even as we would our car engines. In order to have our car engines hitting on all cylinders we need to replace the spark plugs and change the oil because if we fail to do so we will end up broken down and stranded on the side of the road. Likewise, we need to keep our spiritual hearts well maintained so that we don’t break down in life. To put it simply: “As your Heart goes, so Goes You”
Guard our Heart: Don’t Put Two Cents In
Remember, Proverbs is a manual of practical wisdom so how do we guard our hearts? The first way is found in v24:
 
Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
 
It’s really no accident that the first way we guard our hearts is by not engaging in verbal sins like gossip or any type of conversation that involve smearing or defaming others. How many do you wish politicians would vote to keep “perversity from their mouths and corrupt talk from their lips?” How many wish many in the church would do likewise? A corollary text is Ephesians 4:29
 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Of course our mommas already gave us this piece of practical advice when they told us, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all!” This means Billy Joel was wrong when he sang, “It’s no big sin to put your two cents in if you know when to leave it alone.” Usually it is. I could regal you with a dizzying array of Scriptures that tell us how much God despises verbal sins such as unwholesome talk, perverse mouths, and corrupt speech particularly when it’s designed to hurt the reputation of others or is based on presumption, lying (let alone how unfair and demonic it all is). However, for today’s purposes, I want to know what these verbal sins do to our hearts.
 
 
When I was a kid, my buddies and I would prank our neighbors at Halloween, especially the ones we didn’t like. One way we did this was to pour sugar into their gas tanks. Now the sugar wouldn’t incapacitate the motor completely as much as it would bog it down by clogging the fuel lines and filters. Because the sugar would get thick and “sludgy” it would cause the engine to misfire, at least until a fuel additive was added and new filters were installed. Believe me, our roving gang of sugar dumpers had no idea what effect our juvenile behavior had on our neighbors’ cars. If we had imagined it we have never done it. How many do you know that “youth is wasted on the young?”
 
Much the same way putting our two cents in in terms of verbal sins is like pouring sugar into the gas tanks our hearts. It bogs us down, spiritually and emotionally at the same time. It’s a direct deposit of negativity straight into our hearts. Jesus said as much in Luke 6:45
 
The good person brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil person brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
 
Let us start storing good things in our hearts by speaking well of others and even ourselves. Speaking well about others regardless of who they are or what they may have done to us is the first and most practical way we guard our hearts.
 
Conclusion: Some Heart Maintenance
As we close today, I know many of us may still have a sludge in our hearts. You have been saying negative things for so long that negativity just oozes out of you and does so usually in the form of anger. Not sure? Try a little spiritual exercise: have someone, when you least suspect, catch you on tape and then listen to it. A few years ago, someone did this to me right when I was in the middle of a road rage rant. After I calmed down I listened to it and thought two things, “I never want to sound like that again.” “O my goodness, that conversation is already recorded in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). It’s true that if we clean up our speech we will clean up our hearts and if we clean up our hearts we will clean up our speech as the two go hand-in-hand. So if you always easily say negative things, then pray with me, especially as we prepare for Holy Communion, David’s prayer found in Psalm 51:10
 
Create In Me A Clean Heart O God and Renew a right Spirit within me.GAurd
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