Guest speaker Yan Hadley spoke tonight on the subject of having a spiritually healthy heart. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts above all else, and we need the eyes of our hearts to be opened so that we can be transformed people who have sensitive and teachable hearts and who are responsive to God. Acts 13:22 tells us that David was a man ‘after God’s own heart’; he was far from perfect, but had a heart that was sensitive to God. We need a healthy heart to be able to see God (Matt 5:8), to seek after God (Jer 29:13), to be able to draw near to God (Heb 10:22), to be confident before God (1 John 3:21) and to be able to worship God (Ps 100:4, Ps 86:12).

Prov 4:23 teaches us about the primary importance of the heart, our personal responsibility to guard our heart and that the heart is a source of powerful influence.

1. Primary Importance

Prov 4:23 tells us to guard our heart ‘above all else.’ Just as our physical heart governs what our body is able to do, our spiritual heart will determine our actions – and as Gal 6:7 reminds us, we reap what we sow. God wants us to maintain a sensitive heart to Him; Prov 28:1 reminds us not to harden our hearts or we fall into calamity. We must not make excuses, rationalise sin or sweep things under the carpet; we cannot afford to ignore God when He speaks to us.

2. Personal Responsibility

We must guard our own heart; we cannot be responsible for others. We only guard that which we consider valuable, but must understand the spiritual nature of life. It is easy to lose heart, to become discouraged, to be divided, to allow unforgiveness and bitterness to grow in our hearts. We face a spiritual battle both externally (Eph 6:12) and internally (Gal 5:17) and must be alert. David, despite being a man after God’s own heart, fell into sin because he was not alert; at the time when kings were at war, he was at home, lusting after Bathsheba and ultimately committing adultery, manipulating people and finally murdering her husband. To be unguarded and not alert can be fatal; we must learn to look after our spiritual walk.

3. Source of Powerful Influence

Everything flows from our heart; we speak what is in our heart. As Luke 6:45 makes plain, a good tree brings forth good fruit. All of us have a circle of influence; our influence can be positive or negative. Jesus wants us to be salt and lgiht in the world, to be His ambassadors. When the fruit of the Spirit is in our lives (Gal 5:22-23), others will see God in us. As rivers of living water flow from us, we will influence others so that they can see God in our lives.