From the Heart
Proverbs 4:23 ESV
Proverbs 4:23 CEV
Proverbs 4 tells the story of a father giving solid common sense to his son in the English Standard Version. In the Contemporary English Version (CEV) the advise is given to young people.
Either way, the tone of the Proverb sets the stage for the parent to give common sense advise to their child.
In Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) we read, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
The Hebrew word for vigilance is mis-mar and it can mean a place of confinement, a thing to guard or watch, or an observance. Another word in English that can be used is diligence. The Hebrew could be translated as saying ‘hold your heart guarded for from it come the important issues of life.’
I like how Proverbs 4:23 (CEV) translates it: “Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.”
Reading Proverbs 4 was like a flashback to my youth. There were times when my dad would speak proverb like statements to me. At the time I thought they were coded messages. It seemed like he was giving me clues that were understated because he wanted me to think in a new and different way.
While the Contemporary English Version makes it a bit clearer that we need to guard our thoughts with our heart, it’s still a bit of a puzzle making the connection to our thoughts being the source of true life. It seems like that is a puzzle in the 21st Century. That’s because we might question if our thoughts are indeed the source of life. At this point we need to remember that Solomon was the author and he was all about wisdom. If Solomon’s supposition was that truth and wisdom come from the heart it would make sense that the words that come from the heart are the source of life.
That’s why it’s a bit of a puzzle in the 21st Century. In today’s world our thoughts that come from our hearts are not always covered by truth and wisdom. Our thoughts from our heart can be light-hearted or even humorous.
In today’s contemporary culture humor is highly revered. It is much more revered than wisdom.
Can you imagine a group of friends sitting around a table sharing serious mind-blowing words of wisdom to each other?
In my mind, the group would more than likely break up pretty early.
But…if the group of friends shared seriously funny jabs and clever bits of humor the group might stick around well into the night.
Do you see the difference?
Do we carefully guard our thoughts in today’s world?
Do we believe our thoughts are so filled with great truth and wisdom that they are the main source of our lives?
Those thoughts take me back to my dad and his proverbs…his clues for life. While my dad did have a great sense of humor, he was also a philosopher. He was an engineer by trade. Every word was part of a phrase part of a complete thought.
When I was 13 years old he wanted me to see cause and effect.
He wanted me to be able to follow the structure in scripture. He was trying to teach me the importance of the clues.
In the case of Proverbs 4:23 it would be the clue that our heart should be the source of life. Our words should be carefully chosen from thoughts that are real and genuine. Our words should mean something.
Our words shouldn’t be cavalier.
That makes me think of Maya Angelou. When she speaks her words mean something. People stop and listen because she speaks words from the heart. People respect her words. They remember her words.
When I was younger and in ministry, I struggled with how to express feelings of sympathy when I went to a funeral or to visit someone in hospital. Then I read what Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I realized I needed to stop trying to sound sympathetic. People won’t remember what I said. I needed to learn that people wouldn’t remember if I shook their hand correctly or if my shoes were scuffed up.
What mattered was that I really showed up. What made a difference was that my thoughts for them were genuine and caring. What they would remember was that I loved them and I cared that they were hurting.
I think that’s what Solomon was getting at…let your heart feel real and genuine feelings and thoughts because that’s where real life happens.
Treat each person you meet as being special. Care about what they’re going through today. Listen.
We don’t need to sound concerned…we need to feel caring thoughts about them. We need to really show up and let love be the offering of the day.
I think if Solomon were with us today he would tell us to really let our heart and our thoughts connect to another person. After all heart to heart, a genuine connection of feeling will always be remembered.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Connect
Think about connecting with one person today heart to heart. I guarantee they will remember the connection.
In God, Deborah