Your heart is the most vital organ in your body. We know this because when the heart stops beating it can bring about death in two to twenty seconds. Every other organ in your body can also bring about your demise but it can take days, weeks, months, or maybe years in some cases.
For this reason, the heart is protected by layers of muscle backed up by ribs held firmly in place by cartilage and aptly called a rib cage. Even the roundness of that cage maximizes its strength just like the roundness of an eggshell gives it strength. As a last line of defense, the pericardium, a thin, outer lining protects and surrounds the actual heart. Your internal temperature management system even steps in to keep your core at the proper temperature even at the expense of your other extremities if necessary. It takes a lot to get to your heart.
In addition to all that external protection, people also take efforts to protect the internals of their hearts through proper diet, exercise, and medications. Some people…not so much.
In any case, it takes a lot to successfully attack your heart.
Leading cause of death in America
Even with all this protection, heart problems are still the highest cause of death in America. It beats out cancer, COVID, and accidents.
Nothing can garner a swifter response from your doctor than to say, “I have chest pains.” I know this because I went to the doctor for pain that was right at my chest level. When asked why I came in I said I was having pain in my chest. The nurse was upset with me for not saying that I had chest pains when I checked in so they could quickly respond. The doctor said to immediately go to the emergency room if I felt pains again and prescribed nitroglycerin pills. I was warned to take this very seriously. It turned out to be no more than nagging heartburn. So, a word to the wise, don’t tell your doctor you have chest pains unless you’re feeling the need for attention.
Point being, the medical community takes heart issues very seriously.
But what of our spiritual hearts? Are they as vital as our physical heart? Well, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
What does “the springs of life” mean? Other translations say “everything you do flows from it, (NIV)” or “for out of it are the issues of life, (KJV)” or “for it determines the course of your life, (NLT)” and lastly “for it is the source of life. (CEV)” Any one of those sounds pretty vital. So, we need to protect our spiritual heart just as well as our physical heart as they both are vital for life. Your life.
Inroads to our heart
So how do we protect our spiritual hearts? I guess we would have to look at how it can be attacked. What are the ways an enemy can get into my heart? I can see something, hear something, read something, talk about something, and think about something. Any one of those can be an inroad into my heart. So those, therefore, are the avenues I need to protect or stand watch over as the first part of Proverbs 4:23 says to “Watch over your heart with all diligence.”
Thinking is a vital inroad to the heart
That thinking about something, however, may just be the most important avenue of attack on our heart. It’s one thing to see something, hear something, read something or talk about something but after that time, it’s when you think about that thing you saw, heard, read, or spoke about that really imbeds itself into your heart. Proverbs 23:7 plainly says “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
This thinking about things is clearly important to God. Consider this. Genesis 6:5 says God destroyed the entire world by flood because, “every imagination of man’s thoughts of his heart was evil continually before God”
Because of the thoughts of man God flooded the world. That’s not something to take lightly.
Why is thinking so important? There is an illustration called “the hand” that illustrates the importance of thinking on scripture. It assigns hearing the word, reading the word, studying the word, and memorizing the word of God to each finger. Those all give you a reasonable grasp of the word of God. But not until you you assign thinking to the thumb that you can now get a good grasp on the word of God. It’s that thumb representing thinking about what you see, hear, read and speak that gives those four inroads into our hearts such a strong grasp on your heart.
God helps guard our heart
Just to show us how important guarding our heart is to God, notice that He does not leave us alone to protect it. He Himself lends us a hand to protect our hearts. We know this because in Psalm 73:26 David says, “God is the strength of my heart.”
So God is the strength of my heart. We can trust Him to follow through with that.
What steps do I take
But what is my responsibility to protect my heart? Considering the avenues of what I see, hear, read, and speak. That comes in from TV, radio, and other people. I guess I could turn off the radio and TV, and cut out all interaction with people. The problem is all these things are pervasive in our world. My goodness, you would have to live in a monastery to stay away from these things. I suspect you would see some of these even in a monastery. So how do we deal with these things?
Take a pill
Consider any lingering sickness you have had. Do we just take a pill once for it and that’s it? Not usually, for those lingering sicknesses. We have to continually medicate to offset the bad thing that is going on inside of us. In the same way, we have to continually take our spiritual medication to ward off those negative influences that we can’t just shut off. Fortunately, it’s as simple as popping a pill. And what’s that magic pill? Consistently reading or listening to God’s word.
Ways to stay in His Word
So what are the various ways we can do that? Fortunately, there are many ways available to us.
Daily devotionals – There are many daily devotionals available in written form or on the internet. As long as they have scripture readings associated with it, that is staying in God’s word. One common one is from “Our Daily Bread” ministry. You can get their daily devotional in written form sent to you free or catch it on their website.
Read through the Bible – There are many plans available to read various portions of the Bible or the entire bible in a year. You can gut it through from cover to cover or read some Old Testament interspersed with the New Testament. The options go on and on.
Read a chapter of Proverbs each day – Whatever the day of the month is, read that chapter. There are 31 chapters of Proverbs and 28-31 days in a month. For the most part, by doing this, you will have read each chapter of Proverbs 12 times in a year. How can you go wrong reading the wisdom of the wisest man who ever lived?
Your own personal devotional – Seven minutes with God is an outline for personal Devotions. It includes prayer time and Bible reading time. You choose the scripture. Maybe you go through various books of the Bible or use a reading plan to guide you through the Bible.
For the tech-savvy – Go to websites that read scriptures to you. It’s good to read with your own eyes but what of sitting back and letting someone else read to you? Some sites do exactly that and then give you commentary on what they just read. Ascension Press and One Year Bible podcast are just two of them.
Commentaries are good
There are a whole host of TV & radio evangelists. Me even. They are good supplements but it’s the true Word of God that you want to take in, to guard your heart with. Kind of like that pill you are taking for what ails you. You don’t want to take a pill that is sort of like what the doctor prescribed, you want the actual prescribed pill. The real thing. In the same way, we need to read the actual words of scripture. Those are God-ordained words spoken through the agency of man. Commentaries are good, evangelists, teachers, and preachers are good but they can’t replace the Holy Spirit speaking to you from the pages of the Bible. The promise to the Disciples and now us, as we are grafted into God’s kingdom, is found in John 14:26 which says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…”
Make a plan
So I have listed various avenues to get God’s word into our hearts. Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail.” If you have thought by now to increase God’s word in your life it’s time to make a plan to make it happen.
First, make a reading plan that is workable & easy to remember. Think of that pill analogy again. We take our pills around mealtimes, or when we rise in the morning or lay down at night. Those are things we tend to do each day already so we tend not to forget our pills. Can you find similar activities that you can attach a little Bible reading to?
Maybe you decide to read that chapter of Proverbs just before breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or maybe after a meal. Is there something else you always do every day that you could attach some sort of Bible reading to? To say, “I will find time in the afternoon to read” has a low probability of success. Attach it to some other activity that already is a habit for you and the probability of success increases.
Be careful with your heart
So what am I saying?
Be careful what you see, hear, read, talk about, and most importantly…what you think about.
Balance what you see, hear, read, and talk about with the true word of God by reading the Bible.
I will leave you with this thought from Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”