“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
How true! Guard your heart! For it is the organ that constantly pumps life through your body. Your brain is essential for thinking, conversing and directing your body’s functions, but the heart keeps your body and brain alive. Remember, the brain dies when the heart stops. Your heart feeds your body with necessary-to-life nutrients carried to your cells in the blood pumped by this heart muscle. My heart suffered its second attack last week. In August 1999, after the first, I underwent a three-way bypass. 17 years later the three bypasses are still operating, but needed necessary oblation (enlarging). One of my native main arteries was completely blocked, so I had to undergo last Monday a rotoblation (opening of this artery with a diamond drill) by way of a catheter. Amazing what modern medicine is able to do. Much of this heart/arterial disease was the result of acute exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange, when I fought in Vietnam. Its poison produced diabetes, which in turn brought heart disease and an attack.
Just as your physical heart is the center of physical operations in your body, so your spiritual heart is the center of all your moral, emotional, and spiritual functions. While your brain sends electrical impulses to your senses, thought, speech and body function, your spiritual heart (every bit as palpable as your heart of flesh) is the determinate of who you actually are in character and soul. The physical and spiritual elements in you are intricately intertwined. They operate so in us all. The spiritual heart and its eternal consciousness is the one part of you that survives the grave, until you receive an imperishable body. “Out of the heart are the issues of life,” the Creator tells us. He also tells us post-Fall that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it.”
So just as your physical heart is susceptible to and requires cleansing from disease and plaque, so the spiritual heart requires cleansing from sin to live. Sin clogs the arteries of a spiritual heart causing slowness of spiritual breathing, weakness of spiritual strength, and eventually spiritual illness or even death, just as much as physical disease and plaque will sicken or kill a heart of flesh.
Your physical heart is completely in the dark, out of sight, except in the rare instance of open heart surgery. Disease in your heart creeps up on you silently in most cases, until the unwary person is shocked by a heart attack, which can sometimes be a “widow maker”; lethal. Occasionally, there are symptoms; shortness of breath, lack of strength, angina. Often, there are absolutely no detectable signs at all an attack is going to happen, until it does. The spiritual heart is out of sight for most people as well, in terms of encroaching disease. That is, because sin upon sin, which is true to life when the flesh is still active in all of us (Romans 7), deadens sensitivity to its presence and affect. It is apparent that the Holy Spirit is the only “instrument” which can expose the condition of a spiritual heart to your senses, and that, only when you are attune to His presence. The Holy Spirit produces humility in you, otherwise; pride reigns.
Sin, the plaque of the spiritual heart, does its damage silently in spiritually insensitive people, which is a vacillating condition in each of us, clogging the spiritual arteries more and more, and blocking spiritual nutrients from freely flowing in a person who is hardly aware that he or she is “skating on thin ice.” Sin builds upon sin in such a way that it changes the perspective with which you see it; sin is not perceived anymore as sin, for it is personally evaluated as even something which is good or at least “neutral” for you. Consequently, it is a silent killer, just like plaque in your arteries.
As you need to be constantly aware of what you eat and drink, that exercise is necessary, to keep your heart healthy, it is absolutely true of your spiritual heart that you be sensitive to sin; what it is, what it looks like, what it does in you, how you fight it. The Word says to you, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” It is a constant exercise not open to pauses. Pauses, as we all know allow the “fog” of sin to creep in under your doors, through your windows, on little cat feet (T.S. Eliot). Sin is pervasive and requires constant vigilance to avoid. “Be always alert,” Peter says, “your enemy is (actually) stalking you like a roaring lion, seeking to devour you.”
Guard your spiritual heart; for it is where your self-treasure is, and out of it flows the character of everything you are, all that you will ever do. I would say to you that it is surely worth guarding, even more than your physical heart, for it determines your eternal destiny. Fortunately, you have a God who provides all the grace necessary to eradicate the plaque of sin out of your heart and establish it, unmovable for the eons of eternity. But today, in this life, “Make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things,” it is promised, “you will never stumble (2 Peter 1:10).
“Spirit of God, descend upon my heart, wean it from earth, through all its pulses move; stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art, and make me love thee as I ought to love.”
(1st verse of George Croly’s hymn, “Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart,” 1854)
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