“The quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits” James Clear
Everything begins in the heart. Faith begins there. In fact, our heart is the belief center of our life. Faith is divinely connected to our words. From the moment we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior our life makes a giant leap. Confessions of faith (Romans 10:9-10) require a joint commitment between both our heart and mouth! We believe in our heart but we also confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.
By the word “heart” I refer to our mind, will and emotions. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) sums up our heart’s potential and challenge: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Unless guarding our heart becomes a subconscious habit, we will neglect doing so until it is mandated by conscious awareness. Habits are tricky unless we commit to developing them on purpose. The heart is a complex concept. Even when we define it as our “mind, will and emotions” it holds a vague gravitational pull on our life. Jesus broke theological ground and connected the dots for us in Luke 6:43-45:
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Verse 45 reveals the secret to guarding our heart. Listen to yourself! Simple! Okay, it’s not that simple. Consider David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 (NIV): May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. What if that prayer became habit?
David made a habit of listening to what he heard himself say. Protecting the physical flow of life in our heart is a medical science. Guarding what flows out of our mouth is our spiritual responsibility.
Are there scripture examples of an unguarded heart? Yes, here are two examples:
- Moses’ unguarded heart made excuses when God approached him to deliver the Israelites. What did Moses say? “Oh Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Moses’ heart was full of doubt and inferiority. His heart was unguarded. Faith changed both his heart and his words.
- Gideon’s unguarded heart chided God as an absent God! His words were: “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about?” What was in Gideon’s heart? Unbelief and excuses! Faith changed his perspective and words!
What kind of habits should we develop to guard our heart. Listening! Consider the Apostle James’ words:
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
Listen to your words and the words of those around you. Hold yourself accountable to habitually listen to your words and guard your heart accordingly. What kind of words should you guard your heart from? See Part II.