Above All Else

If you were at The Eastside Vineyard Church this past Sunday, Tony and I preached on the topic I am going to blog about, but one 40 minute sermon isn’t enough. So I felt like I needed to blog about it.

The topic? Your heart.

Jesus said: Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?  But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. – Matthew 15:17-20 (NIV)

So when those words came out of your mouth, the ones that was far from Christ-like and afterwards you exclaimed, “I don’t know where that came from!” Jesus would reply, “I know. I know where it came from. It came from your heart.”

Now when Jesus was talking about “the heart” he wasn’t referring to the organ in your chest that is pumping blood throughout your body. He is talking about your OTHER heart, the heart that in the Hebrew world represents the core of your being.

And it was THAT heart that King Solomon had in mind when he said, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV-84)

Above all else. In other words, according to the wisest man who ever lived, THE most important thing that you can do is to guard your heart. Because everything you think, say, and do flows from it.

So we read verses like Proverbs 4:23 and here is what we do as Christians…

We pray.

We might even quote Psalm 51:10 where David says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God…” Now please don’t hear me wrong. That is a GREAT prayer to pray. I pray it a ton. Because we need the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us from the inside out. But we shouldn’t stop there. Because it would be easy to pray that five second prayer each morning and go about living our lives like we do every day (making those same bad choices along the way) and then get mad at God for not answering our prayer.

After all, Proverbs 4:23 does not say, “Ask God to guard your heart…” Solomon commanded US to guard our hearts.

I am the only one who can guard my heart. You are the only one who can guard your heart. And we are commanded to do so.

So how do we do it? How do we guard our hearts?

Here’s one way to do it that I didn’t preach about on Sunday. It comes from Andy Stanley’s book Enemies of the Heart which I highly recommend.

Every night before you fall asleep, ask yourself a series of questions. By the way, don’t treat this list like you’re in the lightning round of a game show as you answer them. The goal is not to answer as many of these in 60 seconds or less. Take time being still and really thinking through each one:

  • Is Everything OK in your heart?
  • Are you mad at anybody and are you waiting for them to come to you to apologize?
  • Did anybody hurt your feelings today?
  • Did anybody break a promise to you today?
  • Whose failure would you secretly celebrate?
  • Is there any person you found yourself having an extended imaginary conversation with?

By answering these questions every day, you will begin to keep short accounts. You will guard against things like anger, jealousy, greed, and guilt from lodging themselves in your heart. From taking root. From growing. From festering.

***Join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. We are going to look at one of the most confusing things Jesus ever did. It’s found in Matthew 15:21-28. Where Jesus didn’t heal the daughter of a Canaanite woman (at least at first…) and even called her a “dog” in the process. What was going on here? Why did Jesus do what He did? Come Sunday to find out. August 19. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***

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About Dan Kopp

In 2010 Dan and Kellie felt the call by God to plant a church somewhere in Macomb County, Michigan. Several months later The Eastside Vineyard Church launched and currently meets inside Shelby Jr. High in Shelby Township. This blog began in the pre-launch phase of the church and has exceeded 50,000 hits. Thanks for reading!
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