“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” Proverbs 4:23. As the treasure box of our soul, we find within our heart all the precious sentiments and beliefs we value and hold dear. Just as with the physical heart, the spiritual heart is vital to our growth and well-being. We must do all we can to keep it “with all diligence,” as spoken by Solomon through his God-given wisdom (1 Kings 3:12, 4:29-31). Yet, this diligence is only preserving if we fully understand God’s intent for how our heart is meant to function.
Jesus says, "For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil...” (Luke 6:44-45).
What comes out of a man’s heart will either defile him or preserve him in the sight of God. It is amazing to consider the power of the heart’s emotions and what they tell us if we acknowledge them. They are the first fruits of righteousness or sin. Whether good or bad, they are first conceived in the heart and certainly encompass “the issues of life."
Satan, as usual, has done a job of clouding the issue, abusing the purpose for the heart's emotions by perverting their use. At his influence, the world gives the slogan “if it feels good, do it” and teaches that the heart is meant to be an unbridled force that changes with the wind. This offends the true nature of the heart and has built distrust in many for allowing it a role in keeping God’s commandments. It is true that what is right should not be compromised by what we feel.
We all encounter this from time to time, wrestling unwanted emotions into submission of God’s will. However, this does not make our heart an enemy; it just makes it honest. It reveals the true condition of its host, be it good or bad, “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” (Proverbs 27:19). God does not want us to dismiss this very important tool that He has given us. The answer is not to shut off emotion or to disregard the heart but to know what God wants us to feel and measuring the difference.
One chapter over, Proverbs 28:26 states, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” What a surprising contrast from the same author; however, no contradiction exists. What we do with what the heart reveals is what makes us a fool or one who “walketh wisely.”
Because we are flesh, our heart does not always feel what is right according to God’s Word. This proverb says you are a fool if you think that whatever you feel is always correct or right. You can trust your heart to be honest, but you cannot trust it to determine what is right. We must use God’s standard (the Word of God) to determine what is right and then look to the true reflection of our heart to determine if we are where we need to be. If we do this, then we walk wisely. We risk becoming the fool this passage describes if we try to do it the other way around.
I once heard a story of a man who was driving down a country road and came across a large barn with a bunch of bulls-eyes painted on its side. In the center of each one was a perfectly shot arrow. He was amazed and saw a young man standing in the distance with his bow. He pulled over and asked this boy in amazement, “How on earth do you hit the bulls-eye every time? I don’t see one missed shot!” The boy smiled and sheepishly replied, “Well my secret is wherever my shot lands I paint a bull-eye around it.”
If we validate our heart's emotions without confirming it with God’s standard, then we are like this young man. It was something for the passerby to see such an amazing task, but when he found out the boy was just painting circles, it was nothing special at all. It is no different for us today. The devil has convinced the world to paint circles, but God wants us to shoot straight arrows — and we can by using our heart. If we do, people will see it and be amazed. They won’t feel deceived or let down when they are told about the life-changing power of Christ because we will possess the authentic walk of a heart keeper.
“...Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:20-22).
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.