As I look forward to the New Year I’m reminded of a tone setting proverb:
Guard your heart above all else for it is the wellspring of life. Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you. (Proverbs 4:23-24)
Of course, I love the command to guard the heart. Who doesn’t love that scripture? But what strikes me is the advice following this verse. I am sure the author’s primary meaning of “crooked speech” and “devious talk” is about our every day speech, and truly these would pollute any heart. But the crooked speech can also be in our heads. It can be the ideas and thoughts that argue with God’s word. It might be the voice of condemnation, fear, shame, or regret. It might be the voice that says “you could never serve the Lord like that”, “you don’t have what it takes”, or “that crazy idea will never work.” It’s the devious talk in our minds that argues with God’s definition and vision of our lives that we must put far from us. Like Bill Johnson says,
“I can’t afford to have any thoughts in my head that God doesn’t have about me.”
On a closer look, the verses that lead up to verse 23 talk directly about God’s word and the importance of being “attentive”, “inclining” our ears, not letting them “escape our sight”, and finally “keeping them within our hearts” (4:20-22). It’s God’s word that defines us, and it’s meditation on God’s word that fortifies our hearts so that springs come bursting out of our inner being. The connection between the mind and the heart is so critical. We need the light of God’s word in our minds, and the heat of God’s spirit within our hearts. As we set ourselves to meditate on the word of God and make it our delight day and night it descends into our hearts and and roots us like a tree planted by streams of water.
But as we worship, pray, and meditate on God’s word, we find that we are still the gatekeepers of our mind and we still have to make the choice to put away from us the crooked speech. Jesus said “repent and believe” (Mark 1:14). Repentance means to change our minds, to take God’s view instead of the polluted view; it means to cast out the devious and crooked thoughts that seek to rob our faith. We stand guard at the garden of our hearts, and when the serpent comes to deceive us into believing low thoughts about God, ourselves, and others we can rise up and cast those thoughts away.
As you set your sights on 2018 and chart out your vision for the new year, I want to encourage you to join us as we read through the Bible with the read scripture app.