ODJ: spiritual heart attack

February 21, 2015 

READ: Proverbs 4:20-23 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (v.23).

Heart attacks are the No. 1 cause of death in many parts of the world. In America a heart attack occurs every 20 seconds, with someone dying from heart disease every 34 seconds. In Singapore one in three deaths is due to heart disease or stroke. We need to pay careful attention to what medical professionals are saying about heart attack prevention: reduce stress, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and watch your diet. “Guard your heart above all else” is instruction that we ignore to our own peril (Proverbs 4:23).

But the “heart” in this verse is not the biological organ that pumps blood. In Scripture the “heart” is the place where our feelings, attitudes, words and actions are conceived (Luke 6:45). “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person” (Proverbs 27:19). It’s the ‘inner man’ that defines who we are.

The heart is where Christ makes His home (John 14:23; Ephesians 3:16-17), and where God’s Spirit dwells (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). The heart determines our receptivity and our responsiveness towards God (Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 11:19-20). It’s the centre of our worship (Jeremiah 32:39; Psalm 86:12). It defines, shapes and “determines the course of [our] life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Police and soldiers on active duty wear bulletproof vests to protect their hearts from possible danger. Solomon offers a heart attack protection and prevention advisory: “Pay attention” and “listen carefully” to God’s Word. Let His words “penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life . . . and healing to [your] whole body” (vv.20-22).

The psalmist speaks of the importance of this truth: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The risk of a fatal spiritual heart attack intensifies when you neglect and ignore God’s Word.

—K.T. Sim

365-day plan› Numbers 21:4-9

What do these passages (Deuteronomy 32:46-47; Joshua 1:7-8; Psalm 119:9-12, 119:97-105; Proverbs 3:1-2) say about protecting your heart? 
What things are threatening your heart at this moment? What will you do to guard it? 
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