"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23
Solomon was providing spiritual wisdom and insight into what was necessary to walk in peace and to find that abiding relationship with Christ. Proverbs 4 describes what was needed to remain there, guard your heart. But before we get to this verse, we read in verse 20-22 "pay attention to what I say; listen to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart." Part of walking in faith is hearing the word of God, meditating on it and allowing the word to wash and cleanse your mind and renew it.
What I have learned is that if you are not careful to guard your heart and hold onto the faith, you will find yourselves in the midst of struggling.. As you look around and see those who surround you, do you find those who build you up or those who tear you down? Are you consistently hanging out with those who criticize you and find fault with you? Are you the one who always is listening to the latest problems of your friend who is going through trial after trial? Are you hanging out with the grumblers and complainers? If you are not careful, you may find yourself in the midst of the mire and the mud. You may find that they may be sucking the life out of you. When they leave you find yourself tired and now frustrated. That is why we are told, "above all else, guard your hearts." If we are not careful, we may find ourselves in the midst of struggling with our own faith. The greatest blessing you can bestow upon any individual is to preach the gospel which is the power of God. If they are saved, then the best thing you can do is to share the word of truth and God's promises with those who are in need of reassurance, edifying and building up.
Yes, it is still important to listen to those who are hurting and in need. It is important to show love to them. Sometimes we need to just say we are sorry this happened to you and hug them. But part of loving them is by sharing the truth. The truth is what sets people free and leads them back to the paths of life. If they choose not to follow, then it is important to pray for them and respect their will not to follow. God does not force his will upon our lives, so we need to rest in the fact that God can do miracles and help this person in due season and due time. If they do listen, then you have won back your brother or sister.
In Luke 6:45 Jesus tells us: "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his hear. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." By a person's speaking we can gauge where they are coming from and where they have spent their time. We are told in Philippians to dwell on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything excellent or praiseworthy." Paul experienced being whipped 39 times, being shipwrecked when it could have been avoided, being thrown in jail unjustly and being betrayed. In all that he praised the Lord despite his circumstances. He looked beyond and saw the greater glory.
May we remember to guard our hearts and keep fighting the good fight of faith.