“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.” Psalm 119:37
A popular children’s song says “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see…Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.” That’s good advice for any age, because our eyes and ears feed our minds and in turn influence our hearts. Our hearts affect our mouths and hands and feet. What is in our hearts will influence what we say, what we do and where we go.
Our hearts are the core of our being. In the original Hebrew language, our Western word “heart” has many different words, with slightly different meanings, but they all come back to one point: “the inner person, the seat of affection, emotion, thought, desire, conscience and understanding.” Surely this is why King Solomon wrote in his series of Proverbs, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Solomon is advising us to “protect, preserve, and keep vigil over” that place of thought, desire, affection and emotion. So how, exactly, do we “guard our hearts?” He gives us several points to put this important principle into practice
“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (v. 24). Doesn’t it seem that society’s language has become so base and filthy? I remember when you would never hear the profanity on television that is tossed around today. I remember when a man would not use coarse or profane language in front of a woman, out of respect. Now women have mouths as filthy as a sailor. Jesus said “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If profanity and coarse language, inappropriate joking and – uh oh – gossip – are tripping over my tongue, I don’t just have an ugly mouth, I have an ugly heart.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you” (v. 25). Two young men were sitting in a football stadium looking at the field covered with snow. They decided to see who could walk the straightest line from midfield toward the goalpost in the end zone. They both stood on the fifty yard line and started walking. When they reached their prospective goals they met back in the stands. They laughed to see one boy’s trail veer off center and end up several feet from the goal post. “I don’t know what happened,” he said, “I watched my steps, and put one foot carefully in front of the other.” The other boy’s trail was dead on, stopping right at the center post. “I didn’t look at my feet as I walked,” he said “I never took my eye off the goalpost.” The goal of the Christian life is become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:2 offers this word: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” Keep your eye on the goal. Never take your eyes off of Jesus. Wandering eyes lead to a wandering heart.
“Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm” (v. 26). Whether we want to accept it or not, we are no longer living in a Christian culture. The world today rejects the solid foundation of the Christian faith, and has created its own “spirituality,” that has no root in the time-honored traditions and beliefs. You can believe whatever you want to believe, and you can change your belief when something more appealing comes along. The paths that are level and secure are those that have been trod for thousands of years by faithful believers in the One True God and in Jesus Christ, His Son. The way that is firm is “The way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Solomon also said “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining brighter till the full light of day” (v. 18). The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has stood the test of time, and it will stand for eternity. Don’t allow the world to draw you off of the firm, level truth of God’s way.
“Do not swerve to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil” (v. 27). We have an image of Satan, red skin, horns a tail and a sharp trident. I expect Satan laughs at the caricature we created in our imagination. Evil is not always so easy to identify. Paul wrote “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 1:14). Evil is often subtle, cloaked in seemingly harmless decisions. But evil always reveals itself when we are in deeper than we ever bargained for. This verse tells us that the best way to guard against evil is to stay right on that level and firm path. Jesus overcame evil, and He alone can lead us safely along the right way.
Finally, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life” (v. 13).
There is no greater road map than the Word of God. It is the original GPS – “God’s Positioning System.” The instruction you will find in the Bible is true and is a rock-solid foundation to build your life on. There are two verses that I believe express the importance of the Bible in the life of the believer. The first is Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Its companion verse is Deuteronomy 32:47, “They are not just idle words for you – they are your life” (emphasis added). Wherever God takes you in this life, His Word is a sure compass and a guiding light; and in the Scriptures, both Old and New, is everything you and I need for life. The Bible is real words for real life. I encourage you to make Bible study part of your daily routine. Find a church that teaches the true Word of God, even consider participating in a Bible study class or group. Sink your roots down into the rich and fertile soil of God’s Word and you will be amazed at how deep and strong your faith will grow.
The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest King of Israel, yet for all his wisdom, he failed to follow his own advice. He allowed his heart to be turned away from God as he pursued multiple foreign wives (700 of them, plus 300 concubines!), and they led the King to worship foreign gods. Solomon’s eyes beheld the exotic beauty of these women, and …well, be careful royal eyes what you see.
Holy God, teach me to guard my heart, and keep in pure and humble and always turned to You. Let my words be pure, my gaze steady, my path firm and my way sure. Amen.