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Guarding the Inner Life of the Spirit

    B"H Tammuz 5772

Centrality of Heart

Guarding the Inner Life of the Spirit...

by John J. Parsons

Proverbs 4:23

 "Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life."

– Proverbs 4:23

ALL LIFE FLOWS FROM THE HEART, whether it is physical life or spiritual life.  And just as the physical heart supplies life-giving blood through the arteries to the various organs of the body, so our faith, our "spiritual heart," supplies the means of life and grace to the organs of the spirit. And just as the physical heart can be obstructed or blocked, so faith can become constricted and hindered by sin, impeding the free flow of the Divine Presence. Therefore since the heart represents the "engine" that sustains life, it is vital that we attend to the heart's needs in order to be healthy people.

In our verse, notice that the word mishmar refers to the act of guarding someone closely, like a prison guard or warden might keep watch over a prisoner. The phrase translated "with all vigilance" (mikol-mishmar) literally means "more than anything that might be guarded," and is used here to intensify the command to exercise vigilance. This is a matter of spiritual priority: God commands us to watch our heart more than anything else.

The flesh is weak, and we are quick to go astray in our affections, and therefore the heart is easily divided, obstructed, and liable to failure... Despite its frailty, however, from it are totze'ot chayim (תּוֹצְאוֹת חַיִּים), or the "issues" of life. In the Bible, the word totze'ot is used to refer to the borders of a territory or the boundary of a city. In other words, from the heart a "map" or "chart" of your life is being drawn that expresses the course of your life... Purity of heart represents inner healing, which means being single-minded in your affections and awake before the LORD.

How you choose to guard your heart will determine the "road" of your life. If we keep ourselves from the "artery-clogging" effects of sin, we will experience the free flow of compassion, encouragement, and joy. The faithful heart is open - it believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).

It is your personal responsibility to guard your heart from negative influences – a duty that is connected with yielding yourself as a vessel or "steward" of the kingdom of God.  We must regularly ask God to enlighten "the eyes of the heart" according to His wisdom and power (i.e., truth revealed in Scripture), and to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our desires and affections so that they conform to the character of the Messiah. May God help each of us to guard our hearts... Amen.

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew-English transliteration

mikol mishmar netzor libekha, ki mimenu totze'ot chayim

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