Last week I began to share with you some thoughts from John Flavel’s little book, “Keeping the Heart: How to maintain your love for God”. The book itself is a reflection on Proverbs 4.23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Initially Flavel makes the point that only a heart that has been regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit, who comes into the life of the believer when they initially turn to God with repentance and faith, is able to be kept right with God. First, it must be set right by God, then the regenerate believer co-operating and depending on God is to work to keep it right. Grace makes our work possible – both by giving us a true spiritual inclination and then giving us the power and motivation we need.
We need to remember that while Christ ’s victory on the cross broke sin’s power and paid sin’s penalty, sin remains. We are not slaves to sin – Christ has broken the chains that held us. But neither are we free of its influence, so they heart must be guarded. He gives some particulars on how to do it.
- Frequent observation of the heart – “though bankrupts care not to look into their own accounts, yet upright hearts will know whether they go backward or forward”.
- True grief over sin and repentance for “heart evils and disorders” – “Oh for a heart to love God more; to hate sin more; to walk more evenly with God. Lord! Deny not to me such a heart…”
- Avoiding areas where we know we are susceptible to temptation.
- A “constant and holy jealousy” over our hearts.
- A realisation that God is always with us – “When the eye of our faith is fixed upon the eye of God’s omniscience (all-knowing), we dare not let out our thoughts and affections to vanity.”
Keeping the heart is a matter of consciously orienting our lives and loves towards God. It is not a matter of a few moments each day, although the “quiet time” is always a great start. It is a matter of living every moment of every day in constant awareness that “He is our God and we are His people”.
Will you “guard the heart”, “above all else”?
Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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