A while back, my pastor Colin Smith of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, preached a sermon on Proverbs 4:23 (ESV): “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
I commend listening to the whole sermon (courtesy of Unlocking the Bible) and also commend reading a great sermon illustration he used describing how we should guard our hearts with all diligence, which I quote from the manuscript below:
Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you do not enter into temptation.” Paul said to Timothy, “Watch your life and your doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:16), and he said to the Ephesians elders, “Watch yourselves and the flock over which God has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28).
How are we to do this? Most of you will be familiar with the concept of a dashboard. Think about your car—as you drive along the road there is certain information that you need to have close at hand: What speed are you going? How much fuel do you have left in the tank?
Then there is other information like the temperature of your engine, and the level of your oil. You don’t watch that constantly, but if the temperature of your engine rises you need to know. All of this information is displayed on a dashboard in front of you…What would a dashboard for your soul look like? There would be red lights and green lights. Red lights would be impulses in your soul that have the tendency to secret, perpetual, and alarming departure from God.
Let me give you some examples of red lights that you might put on your dashboard: Fear, pride, greed, self-pity, resentment, cowardice, anger, hard thoughts about God, and coldness in worship—any sense of formality in worship, or any sense of going through the motions.
These are just a few impulses of the heart that you might want to put on your dashboard. You can use these, but remember God says to you, “Keep your heart,” not your neighbor’s heart.
No one can know the impulses that lurk in your heart better than you. So be honest with yourself, and identify the impulses of the heart that you most need to guard against.
I encourage you to get a pen and paper and write these things down. Begin making a list of things that belong on your dashboard. Do this because it will give you clarity.
The items on your list will change over time. New situations will bring new challenges. So you need to keep the dashboard current.
John Calvin said that nearly all the wisdom we need comes in two parts—the knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves. That means you’ve got to know God and you’ve got to know your own heart. Don’t be a stranger to your own heart. Keep your heart with all vigilance.
Watch your heart for changes and trends. A. W. Pink said,
For the Christian to keep his heart… means for him to pay close attention to the direction in which his affections are moving, to discover whether the things of the world are gaining a firmer and fuller hold over him, or whether they are increasingly losing their charm for him.
Watch the direction in which things are moving in your heart. Keep your heart with all vigilance.
The momentum of sin, which always begins in the heart, is like a stone rolling down a hill. It is easy to stop at the beginning, but once it gains momentum, it’s very difficult to stop. So, keep your heart with all vigilance: Watch for the first flicker of a red light on the dashboard.
After hearing this sermon, I wrote out Proverbs 4:23 and taped it onto the dashboard of my car. Now when I am commuting and see it, I examine the dashboard of my heart and see how I’m doing. It’s one practical way to incorporate meditation on Scripture into my daily life.
If you found this helpful, you will also find Unlocking the Bible’s LifeKEYS Daily Devotional very helpful as well.