Above All Else

By in Devotions

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. PROVERBS 4:20-23

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh
 and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water
 that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought
 and never fails to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things
 and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

“I the Lord search the heart
 and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, 
 according to what their deeds deserve.” JEREMIAH 17:5-10

Insight

To say my car is a tad messy would be the understatement of the year. It looks like a bomb went off in it. Don’t ask me how it got this way. Last I remember my car was tidy and clean. But, slowly over time, a fast food wrapper or two made an appearance. Then it was some workout clothes that showed up next. Before I knew it, there were children’s toys galore that were left by my two little rugrats. Add in some overdue library books, mix CD’s, empty shopping bags and stray receipts and you have a complete mess.

But, here’s the weird thing. Over time I’ve grown comfortable with the chaos and mess.

I’ll look around my car and recognize things aren’t as they should be, but it doesn’t move me to act. I promise myself that next weekend will be the time I finally clean it out, but something always seems to come up. So, the clutter remains and gets worse over time.

Unfortunately, most of us treat our hearts similar to the way I take care of my car. We don’t pause and consider what’s happening on the inside. We’re so busy with surface-level things of life that we forget to number our days and tend to our hearts. We become so preoccupied with getting our lives to a manageable point or a better future that we miss both the moment right now and the reality of the coming eternity.

We don’t realize the damage ignoring our hearts can cause.

Our actions and behaviors are just symptoms of a greater problem. They serve as revealers to what is taking place inside our heart. Every single action has some underlying belief that remains below the surface if we don’t pause and reflect. Why do I do what I do? What is driving my behavior? What do my actions say about what’s occurring inside my heart?

Instead, we settle for behavior modification, rather than true heart change. We are after a transformation that we can’t accomplish on our own. We might be able to change our behavior, but we are incapable of mending our heart. We focus on behavior. God focuses on the heart. We must position ourselves to focus and depend on God’s work in our hearts and lives. And the most important thing we can do is depend on Him.

God doesn’t help those who help themselves. God helps those who abide in Him, those who walk with Him in faith. Our efforts were never the impetus for God’s transforming grace. They won’t be the impetus for our changed hearts either. Our efforts are not the source of the change we are after; they can’t be. Rather, they get us in a position for God to change us.

Reflection

  • Reflect over this past few days. What do your actions say about what’s occurring inside your heart?
  • In what situations is God transforming your heart?

Prayer

God, help me to tend to my heart. May I not settle for changing my behavior, but rather trust that You are willing to transform my heart. Help me to trust the process. Give me the endurance to continue on when things get challenging. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.