According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the United States.
Heart disease claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer. This is true for both men and women. Not surprisingly both our federal government and the heath care industry is very proactive in educating the public about heart problems. We are warned about habits that harm the heart. About foods that are unhealthy. The importance of physical exercise. And the need for medical checkups.
More importantly, however, is the spiritual heart.
Yesterday we noted the warning of the wise man in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” In that post we shared three areas in which we need to protect the heart. Today I want us to consider four more.
We need to guard the heart from….
(1) Apathy. Many in our world are indifferent to spiritual matters. Sadly, some Christians have allowed their hearts to become apathetic toward their spiritual health and well-being.
Jesus spoke of people whose hearts had become dull (Matt 13;15). The Hebrew writer encounteedr Christians whose “ears had become dull of hearing.” (Heb 5:11). And one of the severest rebukes in the Bible is directed toward the church at Lacedoia who had become “lukewarm” in their love for the Lord (Rev. 3:15).
Too often churches resort to artificial stimuli to pump excitement into the congregation. However, the real problem is one of the heart. God calls on us “to be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19)
Be aware of the danger of apathy! Guard your heart!
(2) Greed. “Greed is good” boasted Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street. But God disagrees! He says, “greed is bad.” The Bible calls it covetousness and identifies it as sinful Col. 3:5). Peter spoke of ungodly people who had “a heart exercised in covetous practices.” (2 Pet 2:14)
The problem is not the abundance of one’s possessions, or the amount of money he has accumulated, but his attitude of his heart. Money is not the root of all evil! But the Bible says the “love of money” is! It’s an issue of the heart.
Focus on heavenly treasures instead of material possessions. Guard your heart!
(3) Deceit. People can deceive us. Friends, family, and even fellow Christians may be guilty of deceit. The Bible warns against the Devil, who is the great deceiver (2 Cor. 11:3). However, we can deceive ourselves!
The Bible warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9). Even religiously minded folks can have their hearts deceived (Jas. 1:26). Then there is this stern admonition in Galatians 6:7-8.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
Be careful of self-deception! Guard your heart
(4) Discouragement. This may be one of the greatest dangers of all. Many will not give in to the Devil’s temptations of lust, greed or pride. But it’s so easy to get discouraged.
We may be discouraged by the sinful society in which we live. Or the apathy or others. Or the plain weariness of doing good when it doesn’t seem to do any good! So, often the Bible writers encourage us not to “lose heart” (Gal. 6:9; 2 Cor 4:16; Heb. 12;3)
Don’t be overcome by discouragement! Guard your heart!
It’s good to exercise and eat heart-healthy food to prevent heart-disease. However, don’t neglect to guard your spiritual heart through Bible study, prayer, fellowship and spiritual exercise.
Guard your heart!’
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman