Proverbs 23:26 gives us this plea: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” This concise statement contains one of the greatest truths pertaining to family relationships found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, it is probably impossible to violate this truth and not live to regret it.
But why is this truth so important? And why can a proper understanding of it completely change your family?
The Heart of the Problem
First, because this verse addresses the foundational issue of the heart, and the heart of every problem is always a problem in the heart.
Hebrews 3:10 says, “They do alway err in their heart.” Notice that word alway; it’s an all-encompassing word. Any time and every time you see a young person who is in trouble outwardly, you know that the trouble first began inwardly. Rebellion, disloyalty, disobedience, deceitfulness, and self-centeredness are not first outward things, they are first and foremost inward things.
We are easily guilty of thinking that sin begins in the head, but it does not. Sin grows in the head but it is grounded in the heart. Sin blossoms in the head but it begins in the heart. Sin rationalizes itself in the head but it is rooted in the heart. It may be up in the head for a while, but it started down in the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Out of the heart are the issues of life.” And in Mark 7:21, Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts . . .” Notice the progression: first the heart, then the mind, then the life. “. . . adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
Seven times the book of Proverbs teaches us that the heart, not the mind, retains truth. Proverbs 3:1 says, “My son, forget not my law; let thine heart keep my commandments.” We keep God’s commandments in our hearts.
Proverbs 3:3 says, “Write mercy and truth upon the tables of thine heart.” Notice that the heart is where you retain it. If you want truth, you’ll keep it in your heart. If you don’t want it in your heart, your mind probably won’t hold onto it. Proverbs 14:33 talks about wisdom being in the heart. Proverbs 15:13 talks about happiness being in the heart.
People like Rehoboam (1 Kings 12), who seek wrong, foolish counsel, seek that counsel because they are seeking it in their heart. Rehoboam foolishly listened to his peers instead of those who were older and wiser. People who don’t follow Godly counsel do so because their heart has already decided that it doesn’t want to follow Godly counsel. It could sound as reasonable to anybody’s mind as you can imagine, but if they don’t want it in their heart, it won’t make any impact at all.
What the Heart Is
So exactly what is the heart anyway? Biblically speaking, the heart is not usually the physical organ that circulates the blood through your body. Instead, the heart is primarily the seat of the emotions, the sensor of your life. It is the citadel of man. It rules over and above everything else in your life.
You can’t see or feel the Biblical heart, but you can understand more about it by comparing it to the physical heart. There is no more vital organ in your body than your heart. An injured foot is serious, but not as serious as an injured heart. In fact, you can live without your leg; you can live without your arm; you can live without your eyes; but you can’t live without your heart. The condition of your heart defines your life.
Your Life Follows Your Heart
Whoever has your heart will eventually have your life and your loyalty.
You can see this demonstrated when a husband or wife foolishly allows their heart to wander toward someone else who is not their spouse. Too often they end up leaving their family for that other person. Why? Because whoever has your heart will eventually have your life and your loyalty.
This is why it is so critical for us—and our children—to give our hearts to the right people, and to not give our hearts to the wrong people.
I have never seen anyone who, at some time in his life, did not give his heart to somebody. You’re going to give your heart to somebody and probably to some things. There are many people who would like to lay claim to your heart. Heaven and hell contend for your heart. The world and money and pleasure and popularity contend for your heart. Satan said to Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness, “Fall down and worship me and all shall be thine.” He was trying to capture Jesus’ heart.
What will Satan give you for your heart? He offers you pleasure, money and popularity; he offers you the world. You are going to have to be the one who decides to whom you give your heart. This heart I’m talking about was not made to be kept to begin with; it was made to be given away.
Too often, young people give their hearts to wrong friends, sports figures, celebrities, or other questionable people.
Check back next Monday to read Part II on how everyone, and especially young people, should make a commitment to guard their hearts!
By Dr. S. M. Davis
Dr. S. M. Davis has been married to Rae Jean since 1969. They are the parents of 4 daughters who with their husbands and 12 grandchildren are all actively serving the Lord. He is the founder and director of Solve Family Problems, a DVD ministry that gives Biblical solutions to critical family problems, as well as help to foresee and avoid problems. He served for 36 years as a pastor in Lincoln, Illinois. Dr. Davis will be a featured speaker at the 2013 Homeschool Conference, where he will share on many topics vital to godly families. Listen or download a free audio sermon from him here!
Used by permission of Dr. S.M. Davis and Homeschool Enrichment Inc. © 2013 by Solve Family Problems. All Rights Reserved.
“Psalm 34:18,” © 2010 Leland Francisco, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.