Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life. NIV
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life. NASB
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. NLT
Guard your heart above all else,
for it is the source of life. HCSB
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. NKJV
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. ESV Proverbs 4:23
Why six translations of the same verse? Simply to make a point. In my own study I often look at several reliable translations of a passage to help grasp the nuances of that text. Such is the case with this verse. Each of these translations bears a close connection to the others. Yet the subtle differences underscore the significant theme of protecting your heart. As you know, this verse forms one of the core concepts that shaped Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It is the plea of a father to his son to guard his heart from the treachery of the world and its ways.
Here is an implication of that verse that is also fundamental to parenting: If you want to give sound and valued counsel to your children – counsel that they will love and respect – you must first heed this admonition for yourself. If you are going to give biblical care to your children, you must also attend to your own heart. Here is a quote from Tremper Longman’s commentary on Proverbs regarding this verse. First his translation and then his comments.
Above all you guard, protect your heart,
For , from it, life derives.
“It is most important that the son preserves the integrity of his heart. It is from the heart that life derives. The father is not speaking literally. The heart can remain beating, but a person be dead in other ways. An evil heart is a dead heart.” 154
Guarding your own heart from evil influences and tendencies is essential. Are you living hypocritically yourself, ignoring some area of sin instead of repenting and changing? If so, your attempts to teach and model the Christian life to your children will be flawed and warped. No training is more effective than the model of a sincere, godly parent. Parent, guard your heart!
Don’t head into this new year with a heart that is unprotected because of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a weak and inadequate defense against the pressures of an uncertain economy. The rush of Christmas is over. The year 2009 is barreling toward us with breakneck speed. The news media and pundits are overflowing with stories of gloom and uncertainty. Yet God does not change. Like 2010 and 2008, the days of 2009 are planned by God to bring what is best for his people. There are no surprises coming for God. It is just the opposite – what is coming is what God intends. His riches that he has stored up for his people are guaranteed.
…the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13b,14
Guard your heart from fear uncertainty. Yes, you must be wise and prudent. But you must also have a spirit of boldness that lives in the expectation that God’s inheritance and riches can never be devalued. Through the temptations to worry, let the reality of God’s guarantee protect your heart. This will provide you with a steadiness that will not only bless you, but be a blessing to your children.
Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room are an encouragement to us as well. The disciples were about to see Jesus tried and crucified, to have their lives turned upside down in a few hours. But Christ says to them, as he says to you:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Protect your heart with this truth.