Stand guard over your heart
Joshua 23: Now, vigilantly guard your souls: Love God, your God.
The final pages of the book of Joshua contain the sermon Joshua preached to the people of Israel in his old age. It’s a mere “sermonette” when compared Moses’ farewell that fills most of the book of Deuteronomy. It may be that since Joshua has been primarily a military leader that he’s short on words and long on action. Still, Joshua has things to say that are worth hearing. He reminds his hearers that their success is all due to the gracious hand of God. One Israelite soldier has put a thousand enemy combatants on the run. Only God could do that. Their unprecedented success is because of God’s goodness. Still, there’s one area where they must be ever vigilant: their souls. Moses warned them about this many years earlier and Joshua renews that warning now. Even with military victories won there remains the battle for their hearts. As an army posts sentries to keep watch against enemy intrusion, they must stand guard over their own lives. Now, I already know that two or three pages over I will find myself in the dark ages of the book of Judges, but here I find Joshua already warning them of what’s coming. How sad to win the land and yet lose the greater war. Joshua tells them to “stand guard.” That’s good preaching to the people of Israel 3300 years ago and its good preaching for me to hear today.
Take Away: The most important thing for me to protect is my own heart.
How’s your heart doing?
Proverbs 4: Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
I try to keep an eye on my weight and sometimes I do a better job at it than I do at other times. I also pay attention to my bank account. Each month I take time to balance my checkbook and, while I’m no expert at it, I watch my retirement account, trying to do what’s prudent with it. There are lots of things to watch: maintenance on the car, paying the electric bill, mowing the lawn. The wise man of the Proverbs reminds me to keep an eye on my heart. Of course, he isn’t talking about lowering cholesterol. It’s the spiritual heart he’s talking about. I want to be sure I keep my heart centered on the Lord and to know that, as I seek him and his Kingdom, other things will take care of themselves. It isn’t that I’m to neglect watching my weight and my bank account, it’s that all else functions in my life as it should only when my heart is right with the Lord.
Take Away: It’s not a bad idea to do a “spiritual checkup” once in a while…just to keep an eye on things.