Avoiding an Unkept Heart
By: Emily Rose Massey
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” - Proverbs 4:23, NKJV.
When I was in high school, I was involved in countless clubs and activities outside of class. One of my favorite experiences was performing in the spring musical every year. When I became a follower of Christ as a teenager, I was elated to discover that the production chosen for our senior year was Godspell by Stephen Schwartz. This musical is structured as a series of parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. One of my favorite scenes in that show was the parable of the sower.
The parable of the sower is found in Luke 8:4-15, Matthew 13:1-8, and Mark 4:1-9. In this parable, Jesus explains to us that the Word of God must be sown into the heart of a person. In other words, the heart is the ground or soil.
The four types of soil Jesus discusses are:
The Rock/Stony places
Obviously, the best soil for the Word of God is good ground.
What Makes the Ground Good?
Good ground for sowing is soil that has been tilled and ready to receive the seed that the farmer is spreading. The farmer makes sure the ground is cultivated and well-watered.
The worst thing the farmer could allow to happen is for the ground to become hardened, dry, or full of weeds.
In his parable, Jesus explains good ground as “those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).
There is a keyword in that scripture that sticks out to me: “keep.”
This word is also found in another part of that Bible that gives instruction about our heart.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to: Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life (NKJV).
When I reflect on what the word “keep” means in this verse, I often think of the opposite word “unkempt.”
If something is unkempt, it is usually a mess and not cared for - an unkempt room, an unkempt flower patch, or unkempt nails.
So, if we are to keep our heart with all diligence, we are supposed to continually care for it, protect it, and make sure it is pure and ready to receive God’s Word at all times.
What Does It Look Like to Keep the Word in Our Hearts?
What comes out of your mouth is the first indicator of what condition your heart is in (see Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 10:11). The words you speak should build up and encourage others, honorable and wholesome, and full of compassion; they should always line up with what God speaks of in His Word and should always point others to Jesus and bring glory to Him.
Sometimes this is easier for us when everything in life is going well: all our bills are paid and we have plenty of money in the bank, we have great health, and our relationships are strong.
Regardless of our circumstances, we should always be yielding good fruit. In the storms and trials, the fruit that is reflected in our lives should be vibrant and fresh to “eat” for all we come in contact with. After all, the fruit we produce is not for us, but for others.
Are you making sure your heart is kept and cultivated for the seed of the Word to grow and bear good fruit?
Are you making sure your heart remains soft and pliable, guarding it against bitterness or unforgiveness?
Are you allowing the enemy to immediately steal the Word you just heard by yielding to him and his ways?
Are you allowing the cares of this world, the riches of this world, and the pleasures of this life to crowd your heart with nasty weeds that choke out the potential fruit?
If you can answer yes to the last two questions, chances are you are not guarding your heart with all diligence as Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us to do. Not only do you have to keep weeds from choking out the seed of God’s word, you just must care for the fruit that you do have. Again, it is so important to protect your heart from the cares of the world and bitterness and unforgiveness. If upkempt, spiritual growth in your life will be stunted. Remember, keeping and guarding your heart bearing lasting, good fruit is a lifetime process! But keep abiding in the life source, the Vine, Christ Jesus!
Emily Massey began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, entered the blogging world in her early 20s, and published her first book in 2015. She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma while still being able to pursue her passion as a writer. Believing she has been forgiven much, she loves much, and desires to point others to Christ and His redemptive and transforming power, especially by sharing truth found in God’s written word. If you would like to connect with Emily, you can visit www.wewouldratherhavejesus.com.
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