This post is not about taking the law into our own hands but at the heart of the dynamic of a vigilante is a sense that something has to change and someone should do something about it. Their frustration with the ruling authority’s inability or reluctance to act drives them to action. These thoughts are all contained within the 23rd verse of Proverbs 4 –
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts!” The Message
The ruling authority, God, is informing us that He is not going to do what only we can do – it’s ‘our heart!’
The short three-word sentence; keep vigilant watch, translates this way –
keep with more vigilance than you would use for anything else. Barnes commentary.
The NIV puts it this way – “above all else!”
The number one priority and discipline is to guard our heart as if it were the most valuable resource, commodity or treasure. The language of this verse seems over the top but actually, it is the language of a very concerned Father, who is seeking to help a beloved child, as they take their place in this world. Chapter four starts with this counsel – listen and pay attention to a father’s instruction. God as our Father, is trying to get us in the loop and see what’s vital and important, as we start out into adulthood – Guard your heart.
The last part of the verse – for that’s where life starts, carries the idea of the fountainhead or spring, i.e. the starting point of a river. Just as the spring of a river has its starting point deep within the ground, so too does the ‘downstream of our lives!’ The state and condition of the river are directly affected by the state and condition of the source, that is the spring. Making sure the spring was fenced off and protected from debris and dead animals would result in the downstream river quality being at its best. So, it is with the heart!
I have learnt, the hard way, that I cannot change me or my circumstances without first making the effort to go to the source and see if I have allowed anything in into my heart, that is directly affecting what it is I am seeking to change. This is vitally important because if I take new actions but still hold the same heart attitude, eventually my heart will win and my actions will wane and I will be discouraged.
Life, literally in the Hebrew, means boundaries and they are set within our heart and so, real transformations have to begin in the heart!
The context of verse 23 is from verse 20 to 25 and contains hints and warnings about how debris and death will try to get into the heart, so as to affect the downstream –
- Ears – Pay attention, to what it is our ears are listening closely to v 20
- Eyes – The words we continually focus on will get into our hearts
- His Words are life & health to our downstream life v 22
- Lips – put & keep far away perverse & corrupt speech v 24
God, as ruling authority, as our Father, is letting us into how He set up the system and informing us of our part. How vigilant we are, is our decision because love does not insist on its own way. However, love desires the best for us and as a father, He is not a passive observer regarding our life. Therefore, He will try to influence us for good and for change.
His influence centres around the event that lead to the ongoing discipline called self-discipline. The event is to show and reveal any perceptions, thoughts & attitudes that are in our heart. The saying is often true: the way we see the problem is the problem! Biblical transformation begins and only happens by the entire renewal of the mind. Roms 12:2.
After event number one comes to the ongoing process which will regularly lead to more of event number ones, and that is self-discipline or self-control. This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and He longs to help us through this ongoing event and process of transformation.
When the spring that’s producing our downstream is cleared of debris and death, the water and flow of our lives will run clearer.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. 1 Cor 9:25
Don’t you just hate the word ‘everyone!’
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. v 27
I want to be the champion!
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
A walker as he entered a new village asked a question of an old man leaning on the village sign: “Any great people been born here? Nope, said the old man. Only babies!!!
‘Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. Gal 4:1
You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2a-3
For Abraham is was over twenty yearsFor Joseph around seventeenFor David over twentyFor Mary around sixteenEven Jesus had around thirty years!
Daniel outshone all the ministers and satraps because an extraordinary spirit was in him, and the king considered setting him over the entire kingdom. Dan 6:3 NASB
He outshone the competition!
Is grace dormant in us?Is grace buried under the soil of our wrong motives?what’s our attitude to road work and rituals?
It’s not rituals vs rewards but ritual equals rewards!