Watch over your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
If you want to change, be prepared to examine your heart.
I want to change. I want to grow. I want to become more like Christ. But I don’t want to just change. I want to change biblically. So what is the biblical prescription for change? It’s the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).
In the Old Testament, the word “heart” can refer to one’s emotions, but more often it refers to the mind.
In our text, “Keep your heart” means to guard your thoughts, and “with all vigilance” is literally “above all guarding.” Hence, the most important thing you can do is to take great care of your thought life.
But why? Why does the Bible place so much emphasis on what we think? After all, it’s my behavior I want to change. The reason is because what we think (or believe) determines how we feel, and how we feel determines what we do. This is called the ThinkFeelAct progression.
So, attempting to change at the behavioral level is useless—it’s two steps behind in the process. Trying to cope with feelings is fruitless—you can’t even control your feelings. But you can control your thoughts.
The Bible doesn’t say be transformed by the changing of your behavior. Nor does it say be transformed by coping with your feelings. It says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. God knows how He’s made us.
I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life. Often, others would ask, “What were you thinking?”
- I thought I could read, see, or listen to anything without detriment.
- I thought I could sin and get away with it.
- I thought I could associate with bad company and not be corrupted.
- I thought I needed the approval of others to feel good about myself.
- I thought acquiring money and things would make me happy.
And the list goes on. . . .Can you imagine what my behavior was like as a direct result of my flawed thinking?
So, even if what you think or believe is not true, it will govern your behavior.
The outcome of taking extra special care of your thought life is—LIFE!
Consider this: Jesus is the Bread of Life, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, He’s raised us to newness of life, and He came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. Is this your experience?
The capacity to live with joy comes from within, not from circumstances or possessions. Therefore, vigilantly guard your thought life. Make sure it’s consistent with biblical truth. For if you do, out of your “heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
- How might you begin changing your thoughts and beliefs as opposed to attempting to change your behavior?
- What thoughts or beliefs have you mistakenly adopted that do not reflect the truth and that you need to change?
- What steps will you take today to guard your heart so that from it will flow the springs of life?