Life can easily rob us of our joy, peace and zest for living. Esther Williams shares how to counteract negative experiences and difficulties in order to live an authentic Christian life
Keeping a healthy heart is not just about eating right. From a spiritual point of view, it is also about living right.
When we are children, we all start off with pure, unaffected hearts. You would be hard-pressed to find a five-year-old, who’s jaded and ready to throw in the towel. In fact, life is normally a blast for the young. I often watch them tearing around church after services – laughing hysterically, and crashing into the carefully placed chairs. Being rebuked for the havoc they cause just adds to the fun and hilarity. They argue and fight with each other, and then five minutes later they’re best friends again. But, as we get older, we become affected; people betray us; the affairs of life take their toll; negative experiences change us – people change us and we lose our childlike innocence. Basically, our hearts just become clogged with stuff.
The Scripture, ‘Above all else, guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life’ (Proverbs 4:23), has been on my mind for a while. In preparation for this article, I did some research to find out what others had written on this subject. I found countless articles on relationships, and how to avoid heartache on the road to finding your life partner. This is great – but this Scripture speaks of ‘issues’ (plural) of life – not just one aspect of it.
I think when the Bible talks about ‘guarding our hearts’, it’s an instruction to diligently guard the childlike heart and nature that God has given us. This means that if you’re someone who loves being around folk, and you have a genuine heart for people, don’t change because you’ve had a couple of bad experiences. If you’re normally the life and the soul of the party, dependable, reliable, because that’s just the way God made you, don’t suddenly stop being you because someone negatively misinterpreted your act of kindness. Love more, give more, and seek out new opportunities to ‘do you’ and be a blessing to others.
It’s hard to say, but there are some people who find it difficult to accept that people just genuinely want to be good to them. They’ve experienced so much pain that they’re suspicious of everyone. They haven’t just guarded their heart; they have barricaded it and locked themselves in. This is sad. Don’t allow people and their negative experiences to change you. Get into God’s presence and be changed into His image, and surround yourself with people that appreciate who you are.
The reality is that it is going to be pretty impossible to keep that childhood innocence, but there is one big incentive in the Word if we do our best to try. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” The blessing of guarding our heart so it remains pure is seeing our wonderful Father and the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I am desperate to see my Maker face to face, and have Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” However, I am just as excited at the prospect of living an abundant life here on earth. I want to fulfil my purpose in life, and have fun along the way. This means that holding offence or unforgiveness in my heart is a luxury I cannot afford.
The heart is the inner core of our being. It is what connects us to God and connects us to people. It is where our deepest desires, dreams and convictions live, and it makes a person who he or she is. We must do all we can to keep it uncluttered. This also means avoiding gossip, complaining and murmuring; these are three things that are guaranteed to block our spiritual arteries.
In the natural, a heart problem can develop slowly, perhaps from poor eating habits over a prolonged period of time. Suddenly you’re always tired, the next thing you know you’re diagnosed with high cholesterol, and the doctor puts you on a strict diet that has the potential to literally bounce you back to full health. If you choose to ignore the advice it could be fatal. This principle isn’t that dissimilar with spiritual matters. Let’s make sure we all take a regular dose of the Word of God. It’s the best medicine available to us to ensure our hearts stay in tip top shape.
God bless you.
You can follow Esther Williams on twitter @mew36