Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23, NIV
Air, water, and food. It has been said that man can live three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. While not exact, those three measurements illustrate how important each element is. We seem to have plenty of air and time to find food when needed—but water is always the most protected resource, especially in the arid lands of the Bible.
Solomon used a well of water as a metaphor for the human heart and advised guarding the heart as one would guard a precious well: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (NIV 1984). Just as physical life depends on a wellspring of water, so spiritual life depends on an abundant and pure heart. The first ten chapters of Proverbs contain instructions for wise living from a father to his son. Included are admonitions to store up wise and godly instruction (Proverbs 2). A heart full of such instruction will become a source of life in moments of testing.
Above all, guard your heart, and it will be a wellspring of life and wisdom.
It is not the Word hidden in the head but in the heart that keeps us from sin.Vance Havner
Proverbs 4:23 – The Great Reservoir || Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon
Lacey Scott was at her local pet store when a sad fish at the bottom of the tank caught her eye. His scales had turned black and lesions had formed on his body. Lacey rescued the ten-year-old fish, named him “Monstro” after the whale in the fairytale Pinocchio, and placed him in a “hospital” tank, changing his water daily. Slowly, Monstro improved, began to swim, and grew in size. His black scales transformed to gold. Through Lacey’s committed care, Monstro was made new!
In Luke 10, Jesus tells the story of a traveler who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Both a priest and a Levite passed by, ignoring the man’s suffering. But a Samaritan—a member of a despised people group—took care of him, even paying for his needs (Luke 10:33–35). Pronouncing the Samaritan as the true “neighbor” in the story, Jesus encouraged His listeners to do the same.
What Lacey did for a dying goldfish, we can do for people in need around us. Homeless, unemployed, disabled, and lonely “neighbors” lie in our path. Let us allow their sadness to catch our eyes and draw us to respond with neighborly care. A kind greeting. A shared meal. A few dollars slipped from palm to palm. How might God use us to offer His love to others, a love which can make all things new?
How do you handle guilt? Mankind has tried to avoid dealing with this painful emotion for as long as humanity has existed. It all began in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and we’ve been using their faulty methods in an attempt to silence guilt ever since.
Adam and Eve’s first reaction was to cover up rather than “fess up,” but nothing can conceal sin from God.
Next, they attempted to hide from the Lord. Have you ever found yourself avoiding prayer and time in the Scriptures because you don’t want to feel convicted?
Then they refused to take personal responsibility and tried shifting the blame to others. But we’re each responsible before God for our actions, regardless of the circumstances or who else is involved.
Fully aware of Adam and Eve’s guilt, the Lord came to them and asked several questions designed to bring them face-to-face with their sin. And this is still the only way to deal with our failures. We must come to the Lord in confession and repentance so we can receive the forgiveness and cleansing Christ purchased for us on the cross.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
Christians have a glorious position before God. As our text indicates, God has in effect already “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, our actual spiritual condition here on Earth often seems to belie our exalted position in heaven, so we repeatedly need to be exhorted not only to believe the truth but also to live the truth. Theoretically, we are dead to the world, and our “life is hid with Christ in God,” yet we must continually be exhorted to “mortify [that is, put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:3, 5). We “have put on the new man” but nevertheless must repeatedly be “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (v. 10).
While in doctrine we are “complete in him,” in practice we must “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” yet each believer is commanded to “follow after righteousness” and to “work out your own salvation” (Romans 10:10; 1 Timothy 6:11; Philippians 2:12). We are “all the children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and we are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Paul prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (3:17), yet already we have “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
These truths are not contradictions, of course, but exhortations. “If” (and the Greek word actually means “since”) we are “risen with Christ,” then by all means we ought to live as those that are alive unto God! HMM
Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. —Hebrews 12:15
Strange as it may seem, harmony within our own hearts depends mostly upon our getting into harmony with God. Morning comes not by our pushing out the darkness but by waiting for the coming of the sun.
Church difficulties are spiritual also and admit of a spiritual answer. Whatever may be wrong in the life of any church may be cleared up by recognizing the quality of the trouble and dealing with it at the root.
Prayer, humility and a generous application of the Spirit of Christ will cure just about any disease in the body of believers. Yet this is usually the last thing we think about when difficulties arise. We often attempt to cure spiritual ills with carnal medicines, and the results are more than disappointing. NCA083
What God wants today in His Church and in His work is not so much that the world shall see the power of the Church as the power of her Lord and the presence of Him who goes forth with His weakest servants and becomes their mighty Victor.CFD091
It is honorable for a man to resolve a dispute, but any fool can get himself into a quarrel.—Proverbs 20:3
“Temper,” someone has said, “turns to bad or good according to what is behind it.” Remember that the word “temper” simply means “a disposition of mind” and really requires the words “good” or “bad” to be prefixed to it if it is to be clearly identified.
Dr. Stanley Jones says that there are two ways to honk a horn—the Christian way and the non-Christian way. The Christian way calls attention to a situation; the non-Christian way not only calls attention to the situation but it also calls attention to what the honker feels about it. In the USA I once saw a sign on a car that said: “Honk away—it’s your ulcer.” Ulcers are usually visible signs of an ulcerated spirit—ulcerated by irritation and bad temper.
Whenever we lose our temper and take it out on people around us, we do the utmost harm, not to them, but to ourselves. The one who is out of sorts with someone else is usually out of sorts with himself. He projects his inner problems onto others and fails to see the cause and remedy are in himself. I once witnessed a Sunday School superintendent lose his temper in a committee meeting, and when reprimanded by another for his bad spirit, he said: “I have to lose my temper in order to get anything done around here.” James 1:20 contradicts that view: “For man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” Listen to it again, this time in the Phillips translation: “For man’s temper is never the means of achieving God’s true goodness.” Wrong means lead to wrong ends—inevitably.
O Father, help me to meet all impatience with patience, all hate with love, all grumpiness with joy, and all bad temper with good temper. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.—Ephesians 4:32
The Book of Ephesians describes the behavior that ought to characterize Christians as they relate to one another. Our actions ought to be permeated with kindness. Kindness is love expressed in practical ways; it is putting the needs of others before our own. It is intentionally considering ways to meet other people’s needs.
Being tenderhearted means that we are keenly sensitive to the feelings of others. When a fellow Christian experiences sorrow, we grieve also (1 Cor. 12:26). When another believer is joyful, we, too, rejoice. Being tenderhearted means showing compassion toward those around us.
We show forgiveness because we, too, fall short of God’s ideal. Knowing that God has graciously saved us from destruction motivates us to forgive others when they offend us. Often we are less patient with our fellow Christians than we are with nonbelievers. We expect more of Christians, and we feel betrayed when they fail us. When this happens, we need to look closely at the cross and remember the forgiveness we received there. We must set aside the self-centered attitude that leads to impatience and criticism of others.
Jesus did not say that the world will know Him by our miracles, by our grand testimonies, or by our vast Bible knowledge. The world will know Him by the love that Christians show to one another (John 13:35). Are you constantly in conflict with others? Ask God to give you kindness, a tender heart, and a forgiving spirit. As you allow the Spirit to build these qualities into you, your life will be a blessing to others around you.