When I looked at my miniature rose today, something had literally eaten its heart out. An insect or flying squirrel or some other creature attacked it during the night, leaving a gaping hole in the center of the bud. The bud will still open, but its full beauty has been destroyed. If you look at the pictures, you will see what the rose normally looks like and what it looks like today. Sad.
“Eat your heart out” is an idiom that we often hear. Some trace it back to the writing of the Iliad, others to the 1500s. Whatever its origin, it has come to refer to grief and great sorrow or feelings of bitterness and jealousy. We say it in jest, but unfortunately it describes a real emotional malady.
Many verses in the Bible refer to the heart. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to ‘keep’ or guard the heart. Why? To keep it from being eaten by the insects of this life – jealousy, greed, hatred, hopeless sorrow, revenge, evil speaking, bitterness….you can read one list of heart insects in Ephesians 4:31.
These are emotions that can tear our hearts apart. We may still be alive, but the beauty and the peace and the grace of life are damaged. We can’t react or love in ways that build up others. We can’t live with hope and joy, because the heart – our emotional center – is in turmoil.
So, how do we guard the heart?
Proverbs 4:24 – 27 gives us some guidance.
- get rid of devious and crooked speech. What we talk about matters because our words communicate what our minds are focused on.
- look straight ahead – pay attention to where the eyes focus. What we spend our time gazing upon becomes embedded in our hearts.
- ponder the path of your feet that the way is established. Pay attention to where you are going. What are your goals? Where do you spend your time?
- stay on the straight, not the evil, path. Set your heart to obey God and His plans for your life? Ephesians 4:27 tells us not to give place or opportunity to the devil.
Thinking about and applying these verses to our lives allows us to begin to protect our hearts from the evil attitudes and actions that can ‘eat the heart out’.
- watch you say and listen to;
- watch what your eyes focus on;
- pay attention to where you go and the choices you make;
- choose the straight or right path, which follows God.
Four walls to protect against those pesky insects. Four barriers that allow us to flourish in the place that God has set us.
Watch out for those insects! Guard your heart!
Proverbs 4: Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil. (ESV)
Just a note:
These actions are important for those whose heart has been redeemed. They allow us to flourish as God would have us to. But those who do not know Christ as Savior must first have their heart mended by Him. Following a list of rules will not solve our problems. Knowing and following the Savior will.
Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.