Over the last few weeks I have been sharing some insights from John Flavel’s little book, Keeping the Heart, which is an extended reflection on Proverbs 4.23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Last week I shared six particular actions Flavel recommended as helpful in guarding the heart.
The initial element of “keeping the heart” was “frequent observation of the heart”. In this letter I want to ask, “What does this mean?” and, “How do we do this?”
What Flavel is speaking of is making a habit of taking time to honestly consider the standing of our hearts before God. Reviewing our life, our attitude and actions, thoughts and deeds, against the standard of God’s word. God grace to us in Christ should mean that we can be honest with ourselves, before others and with God about our failures and shortcomings. We are saved by grace through faith! So, while this may not be spiritually comfortable, this should not break our confidence – remember, it is in Christ’s performance and not in ours.
So how should we do this? Christians through the ages have used different methods. The best ones always involve reflecting on our lives against the requirements of God’s word. Martin Luther reviewed his life daily against the standard of the Ten Commandments. You could use the two great commands – “Love God”, and, “Love your neighbour” – as the standard against which to evaluate your attitudes and actions. Many have used journaling as a part of this observation, recording their insights before turning to God in confession and thanks for the grace that is ours in Christ.
Before you might be tempted to dismiss this idea a morbid introspection remember that a greater awareness of sin leads to a great appreciation of grace. Just as a person with a headache is grateful for an aspirin; how much more would a person with a potentially fatal tumour be grateful for the offer of a cure?
Will you “guard the heart”, “above all else”?
Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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