By Kyle Idleman
I want you to think about an area of your life that needs some attention. Something in your life that needs to be changed. Maybe it’s a problem with…
You name it. Most of us, when we realize we have a problem, make a list of behaviors we’re engaged in that need to be changed. What can I do differently that will help me to start living differently?
Our focus is on behavior modification.
And why not modify your behavior? It seems like the obvious solution.
The Bible says that the issue isn’t our behavior, it’s our heart. In Matthew 15:18-19, Jesus tells us that “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
This is why Solomon urges us in Proverbs 4:23 to “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Like Jesus, Solomon is saying that the heart is the root. We have a tendency to focus our attention on our behavior, to want to change the way we act, but that won’t address the real issue.
You might think you have an anger problem; no, you’ve got a heart problem.
You might think you have a spending problem; no, you’ve got a heart problem.
You might think you have an eating problem or a pornography problem or a gossip problem; no, you’ve got a heart problem.
Yes, you can try to change your behavior and if you do you might see some temporary change. It might last a couple weeks, or even months. But then you’ll be exhausted by trying to change, and then you’ll find yourself back where you started.
The problem lies with the heart. That’s why Solomon says, above all else, guard it.
One of the most guarded areas in the world is near my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Fort Knox is where America keeps most of its gold. To guard it there is 16,500 cubic feet of granite, 1,400 tons of steel, over 4,000 cubic yards of concrete, a vault door that weighs 20 tons, 4 guard boxes, all the latest security technology and, to top it all off, no one person has the combination to the vault. Various staff have to dial in separate combinations known only to them.
Someone might say, “Wow, aren’t they overdoing it?” And we may be tempted to think the same thing when Solomon says above all else. But the fact is that what’s inside both Fort Knox and our hearts is so valuable that every precaution needs to be taken to protect it..
We need to lose our focus on behavior modification. What we need is the new heart that only God can give us (see Ezekiel 3:26-27), and then we need to guard it.
But how do you do that? Pastors, how do you teach your people to guard their hearts? I’ll talk about that in my next blog post.
For now, stop focusing on behavior modification and start seeing your heart as the root of all things. If you need help guarding your heart you may want to explore this personal or small group series from Kyle Idleman, that focuses on a story about love, meaning and purpose inspired by the writings of Solomon in Ecclesiastes and The Song of Solomon. Learn more about this Bible Study resource or journal here.
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