For the past few days, I’ve been thinking on this verse –
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov. 4:23)
We learned this verse in elementary school, and it’s a scripture that you never forget. Maybe because we were taught how it important it is to keep our hearts? The importance of it has not been lost on me; however, I’ve been even more reminded of it lately as I’ve encountered situations where it would be easy to give into my feelings and not guard my heart. More on that later . . .
So as I was driving into work today, I was thinking on that scripture. I then logged onto facebook and saw that a friend had posted the same scripture – just in another translation –
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Again, as I read the verse, I thought how important is it that we guard our hearts? It’s mega important if it “determines the course of our life.” And then I thought back to the circumstances that I’ve encountered over the past year and how I’m realizing that it’s vital for us to keep our hearts from offense. And I don’t mean from offending others as I’m always trying to make sure that I don’t offend others. It’s easier said than done, and I’m not perfect or always aware of how my words or actions affect others. But my heart is to never offend someone else. Yet it goes beyond that, as we also need to guard our hearts from being offended. Again, easier said than done . . .
And I’ve got to be really honest here – it’s still hard for me when people leave our church family. It’s hard to see them go, even harder to hear the reasons why, and much harder if they leave offended. I purposely try to not hear why so-and-so left. I don’t want to know really. Yet in the circumstances where I do hear (usually from the person who’s left), it hurts my heart. It hurts because many times people leave because of being offended, yet the person or circumstance that offended them is usually unaware or innocent of the offense. And it hurts because the offended one doesn’t realize that they’re offended. So they leave thinking they’ll find a church that won’t “hurt” them, yet it’s each individual’s responsibility to guard his/her heart. Not the church’s job. And even in the off chance that it was the church’s job, we tend to forget that all churches are filled with imperfect people . . . no church, no pastor, no leadership team, and no church body are perfect. We all have to have love and grace for each other. And I’m realizing that part of living in love and grace is to choose to not be offended. So as I watch people come and go, as I hear their reasons (and as they forget that I am related to the pastor and not perfectly able to separate my dad and my pastor into two separate entities), I keep hearing the Holy Spirit within me say “guard your heart as it’s not worth being defensive over.” God is our Defense. And there’s a lot of freedom in that. There’s also a lot of freedom in being free from offense. There’s freedom in knowing that the course of my life will be a good one, because I’m not harboring grudges or yuckiness.
Anyway, so that’s the long short of it. I’ve been trying to write this out for a few days, and I still would like to word it better than I am. But this is where it’s at.