“The heart determines the course of life.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 23, 2022
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
I recently read a quote on the internet that I found interesting: “What you can become depends on what you can overcome.” When I think about being an overcomer, I imagine myself jumping up and down at the finish line of a big race, cheering in victory.
No one wants to live a defeated life. We all want to be overcomers. However, we often miss the biggest obstacle to living the life we want. It’s not other people; it’s not difficult circumstances, and it’s not the devil, even though all three can be a part of our story. The biggest obstacle is us. It’s our own hearts.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) The New King James Version says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” and the New Living Translations says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Your heart determines the course of life. Whoa. I guess that means I can throw out placing all the responsibility for everything that happens to me on God, the devil, or difficult people. I have a responsibility to steward my heart, to guard my heart, to take my heart to the Lord and to receive His truth into my heart.
The heart is central to how our lives unfold because it’s the center of who we are. While it would be wrong to say that we can control everything that happens in our lives, it’s also true, according to Proverbs 4:23 that what happens inside us, happens outside us. The heart determines the course of our lives.
I can’t think of anywhere that the power of the heart to direct our lives is more clearly seen than in relationships. For example, when a marriage is headed toward dissolution, hearts are no longer filled with the godliness of tenderness, mercy, and grace. Instead, they are filled with contempt, blame, hatred, and pride—and unless we guard and guide our hearts, relational disaster will ensue.
Additionally, if we do not guard our hearts from ungodly influences and emotions, our senses will follow the heart’s lead because the heart is like a commander. Once the heart is hardened, the senses follow suit. If the heart is soft, the senses will be open, pliable, and receptive to God’s will and ways. But if the heart is hard, the senses will be hard also, making it impossible to discern truth, and in the case of relationships, make it difficult—if not impossible—to live in harmony with others.
In Hebrews 3:13 God says that where hardness of heart is, deception is always present. Smoke goes with fire, calories go with cheesecake, and lies go with hardness of heart. Sometimes we harden our hearts as a means of self-protection, sometimes because of pride, rebellion, fear, or anger. But whatever the reason, wherever hardness of heart is, there’s always deception.
So, if we want to be overcomers, not just in our relationships, but in all areas of life, we must guard our hearts. It determines the course of our lives.
“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
Lord, I know I can be easily deceived by emotions, intentions, and desires that are not of you. Make me wise, Lord, and help me guard my heart. I know I have a responsibility in this. It’s not all up to you. Help me submit to your ways, Amen.
Have you allowed your heart to become contaminated with ungodly desires, emotions, motivations, or intentions? If so, confess to the Lord and to another person about your struggle. If needed, get professional counsel.
1 John 5:5; Revelation 2:7; Revelation 3:5
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