For as the heart is either pure or corrupt, so is the whole course of man's life.
Geneva Bible 1599
When I first came back to the Lord, after several years of walking in my own ways, He gave me a vision of my heart. It was like a house full of rooms with closed doors. The first room was clean swept with sun coming through the windows and right next to that first room were doors that were closed and dark. I knew all too well what this vision meant, but little did I know the process by which He would take me to get those doors open and those rooms swept with the sunshine streaming in. He has taken me through many trials and hard testings to "keep" my heart and "change" my heart to be more like His. This is a process in which I still find myself and one in which I'm sure will continue until I meet Him face to face. Only recently have I seen just how much He can see things that are in my heart so differently than my own point of view. Ouch. Taking things from my hands that I saw as "good," He began to dismantle and "sweep clean" things I held as sacred but only to find that He sees much differently than I do. This process can be painful, and yet the fruit of seeing His hand at work in my life is rewarding. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, who can know it?" Ouch...again. This is why the verse in Proverbs 4:23 is so substantial in our daily walk with the Lord.
"Keep thine heart with all diligence..."
Keep ~ to guard, protect, maintain
Diligence ~ to hedge about, guard, protect, attend to,
We are to guard, protect, hedge about, and attend to our hearts for out of it flows our lives. The essence of who we are and how we portray Christ. Being a lover of gardens I cannot help but give this attendance of the heart the analogy of the garden and being a keeper of a beautiful garden which would produce fruit for the Savior. Song of Solomon 4:16 compares this relationship with Christ in this sense... "Awake, O north wind: and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my well-beloved come into His garden, and eat His pleasant fruit." And in James 5:7 "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the former, and the latter rain."
Using the analogies of either the garden or the house I can see the contrast of the pureness of heart with either an unkempt garden full of weeds and thorns or a house with very tightly closed doors that need opened and swept.
The weeds in our garden can be so many different things. Some examples are: anger, bitterness, hate, pride, fear, disobedience, lust, an un-submissive spirit, lack of faith, etc... A great many things which are not from the nature of God. Many of these things can stem from unforgiveness, discontentment, and pride. This is where the Lord began to deal in my own heart and show me that He does not see as we do. We can tend to see ourselves as "good" because we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others and we can always find someone in which we feel we are superior... God does not look on things from this angle...He looks into our hearts...to find Christ. Our only comparison can be Christ and God's Word. When we begin to look there for judgement of who we are things begin to appear very differently and we are faced with change. The mirror of God's Word is reflected in our lives as we begin to ask God to "Try me, O God, and know mine heart: prove me and know my thoughts." Only He can know what is in our lives and hearts that needs fixing. And this is how we "keep our hearts with all diligence," by letting Him have full reign and judgement of what is in our hearts and letting the light of the His Word infiltrate into our hearts and the innermost chambers of our secret lives.
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock, If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20
Lord, I pray, "Search our heart" and "knock on those closed doors" and help us open every place in our heart and let you in and allow you to show us the things that need to go, be changed, and swept clean.
"But we all behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord with open face, and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord." II Corinthians 3:18