"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Once upon a time, more than 20 years ago, I sat in a thriving rural church listening to my son (the youth minister at that church) preach one of his very first sermons. I remember taking notes and wish so much that I could find those notes today. Matt had one central verse and 23 points!!
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) - "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
With a couple of seminary degrees and 20 years' worth of preaching experience now under his belt, Matt's sermons have improved vastly, but the one he preached that night flowed from a passionate desire to encourage and instruct the young people he was leading.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago here about the struggle I continually face regarding my words, but now what about the rest of that verse? What about making sure my thoughts, my motives, my facial expressions, the meditations of my heart are acceptable in God's sight? How can I put a guard over my heart so that can happen?
I think we get our main clues by looking at the next few verses in Proverbs after verse 23.
Proverbs 4:24-27 - "Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Aha. The keys to success.
1) v.24 Remove perversity and corrupt talk from the words you speak. Instead, focus on uplifting, encouraging, being kind.
2) v. 25 Fix our eyes, our attention, and our focus wholeheartedly on Jesus. Don't allow ourselves to be distracted by ungodly and impure pursuits. Watch what we take in through TV, social media, magazines, and books.
3) I think our sense of hearing is also implied in this situation. Be careful about the music or whatever voices might try to crowd into your mind. A granddaughter recently told me about a new friend she had at her college and described him as her "muse." I IMMEDIATELY started praying that his words and actions would be godly, beneficial, positive and completely Christ-like. I, too, am in a career right now (travel writing and blogging) that focuses a lot of attention on "influencers." Even at my age, I have to be careful that I am not influenced in a negative way by people who are much farther up the ladder than I am. I have to stay true and committed to who I am and what God wants me to be.
4) vv. 26-27 Carefully consider where you go. At this stage of my life, I'm "old enough" to go wherever I want to go and do pretty much whatever I want to do, but where are the BEST places for me to go? What are the BEST things for me to spend my time doing? I know what limits I have put in practice for myself, but what about you? What are you tempted to do or places you're tempted to go that you KNOW in your heart of hearts are not in line with "guarding your heart" or having "meditations that are acceptable to God?" (We haven't been given the "all clear" signal yet to begin actually leaving our homes, so maybe this is a good time to resolve to be very intentional in the future about where we should and should not go).
5) Stay in God's Word -- on your own, in a Bible study group, listening to Biblical preaching.
6) Pray, pray and pray some more.
For further thoughts on this subject, I found a blog post with a lot of good insight. Check it out: http://www.blessedbeautie.com/2017/09/01/5-ways-guard-heart/