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Guard our heart for it is the wellspring of life
All the passages below are taken from Max Lucado’s book “A Heart Like Jesus,” published in 2002 by W Publishing Group.
SUPPOSE YOU COME TO VISIT ME ONE DAY and find me working in my greenhouse. (Neither my house nor my thumb is green, but let’s pretend.) I explain to you that the greenhouse was a gift from my father. He used state-of-the-art equipment to create the ideal structure for growth. The atmosphere is perfect. The lighting exact. The temperature is suited for flowers, fruit, or anything I want, and what I want is flowers and fruit,
I ask you to join me as I collect some seeds to plant. You’ve always thought I was a bit crazy but what I do next removes all doubt. You watch me walk into a field and strip seeds off of weeds. Grab grass seeds, dandelion seeds, grass burr seeds. I fill a bag with a variety of weed seeds and return to the greenhouse.
You can’t believe what you’ve just seen. “I thought you wanted a greenhouse full of flowers and fruit.”
“Then don’t you think you ought to plant flower seeds and fruit seeds?”
“Do you have any idea how much those seeds cost? Besides, you have to drive all the way to the garden center to get them. No thanks, I’m taking the cheap and easy route.”
You walk away mumbling something about one brick short of a load.
The Greenhouse of the Heart
Everybody knows you harvest what you sow. You reap what you plant. Yet strangely, what we know when we develop land, we tend to forget when we cultivate our hearts.
Think for a moment of your heart as a greenhouse. The similarities come quickly. It, too, is a magnificent gift from your Father. It, too, is perfectly suited for growing. And your heart, like a greenhouse, has to be managed.
Consider for a moment your thoughts as seed. Some thoughts become flowers. Others become weeds. Sow seeds of hope and enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt and expect insecurity. “People harvest only what they plant” (Galatians 6:7 NIV).
The proof is everywhere you look. Ever wonder why some people have the Teflon capacity to resist negativism and remain patient, optimistic, and forgiving? Could it be that they have diligently sown seeds of goodness and are enjoying the harvest?
Ever wonder why others have such a sour outlook? Such a gloomy attitude? You would, too, if your heart were a greenhouse of weeds and thorns.
If the heart is a greenhouse and our thoughts are seeds, shouldn’t we be careful about what we sow? Shouldn’t we be selective about the seeds we allow to come into the greenhouse? Shouldn’t there be a sentry at the door? Isn’t guarding the heart a strategic task? According to the Bible it is: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV). Or as another translation reads: “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 TEV)
What a true statement! Test the principle, and see if you don’t agree.
Two drivers are stuck in the same traffic jam. One person stews in anger, thinking, My schedule is messed up. The other sighs in relief, Good chance to slow down.
Two mothers face the same tragedy. One is destroyed: I’ll never get over this. The other is despondent but determined: God will get me through.
Two executives face the same success. One pats himself on the back and grows cocky. The other gives the credit to God and grows grateful.
Two husbands commit the same failure. One bitterly assumes God’s limit of grace has been crossed. The other gratefully assumes a new depth of God’s grace has been discovered.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
For most of us, thought management is, well, unthought of. We think much about time management, weight management, personnel management, even scalp management. But what about thought management? Shouldn’t we be as concerned about managing our thoughts as we are about managing anything else? Jesus was. Like a trained soldier at the gate of a city he stood watch over his mind. He stubbornly guarded the gateway of his heart. Many thoughts were denied entrance. Need a few examples?
How about arrogance? On one occasion the people determined to make Jesus their king. What an attractive thought. Most of us would delight in the notion of royalty. Even if we refused the crown, we would enjoy considering the invitation. Not Jesus. “Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself” (John 6:15 MSG).
Another dramatic example occurred in a conversation Jesus had with Peter. Upon hearing Jesus announce his impending death on the cross, the impetuous apostle objected. “Impossible, Master! That can never be!” (Matthew 16:22 MSG). Apparently, Peter was about to question the necessity of Calvary. But he never had a chance. Christ blocked the doorway. He sent both the messenger and the author of the heresy scurrying: “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works” (Matthew. 16:23 M5G).
And how about the time Jesus was mocked? Have you ever had people laugh at you? Jesus did, too. Responding to an appeal to heal a sick girl, he entered her house only to be told she was dead. His response? “The child is not dead but sleeping.” The response of the people in the house? “They laughed at him.” Just like all of us, Jesus had to face a moment of humiliation. But unlike most of us, he refused to receive it. Note his decisive response: “he put them all outside” (Mark 5:39—40 RSV). The mockery was not allowed in the house of the girl nor in the mind of Christ.
Jesus guarded his heart. If he did, shouldn’t we do the same? Most certainly! “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23 TEV). Jesus wants your heart to be fertile and fruitful. He wants you to have a heart like his. That is God’s goal for you. He wants you to “think and act like Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). But how? The answer is surprisingly simple. We can be transformed if we make one decision: I will submit my thoughts to the authority of Jesus.
To have a pure heart, we must submit all thoughts to the authority of Christ. If we are willing to do that, he will change us to be like him. Here is how it works.
A Guard at the Doorway
Let’s return to the image of the greenhouse. Your heart is a fertile greenhouse ready to produce good fruit. Your mind is the doorway to your heart---the strategic place where you determine which seeds are sown and which seeds are discarded. The Holy Spirit is ready to help you manage and filter the thoughts that try to enter. He can help you guard your heart.
He stands with you on the threshold. A thought approaches, a questionable thought. Do you throw open the door and let it enter? Of course not. You “fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 PHILLIPS). You don’t leave the door unguarded. You stand equipped with handcuffs and leg irons, ready to capture any thought not fit to enter.
For the sake of discussion, let’s say a thought of temptation comes your way. If you’re a fellow, the thought is dressed in flashy red. If you’re a female, the thought is the hunk you’ve always wanted. There is the brush of the hand, the fragrance in the air, and the invitation. “Come on, it’s all right. We’re consenting adults.”
What do you do? Well, if you aren’t under the authority of Christ, you throw open the door. But if you have the mind of Christ, you step back and say, “Not so fast. You’ll have to get permission from my big brother.” So you take this steamy act before Jesus and ask, “Yes or no?”
Nowhere does he answer more clearly than in 1 Corinthians 6 and 7: “We must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever. . . . Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly---but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them” (6:18; 7:1—2 MSG).
Now armed with the opinion of Christ and the sword of the Spirit, what do you do? Well, if the tempter is not your spouse, close the door. If the invitation is from your spouse, then HUBBA HUBBA HUBBA.
The point is this: Guard the doorway of your heart. Submit your thoughts to the authority of Christ. The more selective you are about seeds, the more delighted you will be with the crop. (55-63)
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