With Matt preaching his series through Acts, over the last few weeks I have been able to spend a bit more time reading. One book I have returned to is a book by a man by the name of John Flavel called “Keeping the Heart”. Its subtitle is “How to maintain your love for God”.
Now John Flavel is probably not familiar to many, if any, of you. He was an English pastor in the second half of the 17th Century. In his little book he expands on the verse from Proverbs 4.23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ” In the book he encourages us to come before the Lord, reminding ourselves of truths about the ways of God and the grace of Christ that will energise and stabilise us on the path of faithfulness, no matter what.
Why is this worth writing a book about?
The proverb exhorts us to “guard” or “keep” the heart, above all else. What’s the big deal? The heart, according to the Bible, is the centre of our being, the core of who we are. This means that it is the controlling source of all that we do, because what we do is an expression of who we are. All our plans and purposes, all our thoughts and desires, all our decisions, attitudes and ambitions come from our hearts. As the proverb says, “everything you do flows from it.” So, the condition of our hearts will determine the direction of our lives, for good or for ill.
So Flavel encourages us to make it our highest goal. We are to do it, “with all dilligence” (drawing from the KJV). He writes “ the keeping and right management of the heart in every condition, is one great business of a Christian’s life.”
How do we do it? Let’s say that regular pattens of Bible and prayer are key. There is more, but we can expand on these in later letters. Will you spend time in God’s word, not to merely know our Bible’s better, but to know and love God better? Will we pray to him, not just to ask things of him, but to rejoice in our relationship with him?
Will you “guard the heart”, “above all else”?
Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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