Words of Worth

A Warning to Watch

October 8, 2010

Reading through Proverbs can sometimes feel a bit disjointed. It’s not narrative in nature and the subject matter jumps around quite a bit. But at the end of the fourth chapter, there seems to be a series of connections that begin with a warning to “watch over your heart”.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

That verse in itself would be enough to catch our attention. It holds a warning about the wellspring of our life, which is serious business indeed. One might think the next verse would give some instruction about how to guard our hearts, maybe a list of precautionary measures that would ensure we were doing the right thing. But instead, we find in Proverbs 4:24 a command to put away a deceitful mouth. So, where’s the connection?

Jesus provides the connection.

In Matthew 12:34, while not so gently rebuking the Pharisees (he called them a brood of vipers!) Jesus offered these words about words:

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”

There’s the reason to carefully guard the wellspring of your life. “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” We won’t be able to hide what’s in our heart when we begin to speak.

A visual that comes to my mind is an actual old timey well. There was one at my friend’s house in the rural town where I grew up and every time we went out to play, we were cautioned to stay away from the well. Of course, this drew us to it like a magnet. It was covered with a heavy wooden disc but over the years, the wood had begun to rot and someone has shifted it a little so there was an opening at the top where leaves and debris could fall into the water. No one used the well anymore so it didn’t matter but if we could have dipped down to get a taste, it would have been contaminated because the opening was unguarded. The same goes for our heart – if left unguarded it will become contaminated.

Even boarded up and partially dried up, the well still posed a danger. So does an unguarded heart. We can’t afford to let our hearts becomes cluttered with the debris of an unfocused life. We must pay close attention to our ways and our path. It will be immediately clear when we open our mouths what’s down in the well. How much better it is to offer someone a cool refreshing drink of water than a dipper full of sludge.

Looking for more words? Read Matthew 12:34-37 and pay attention to any careless words you hear spoken today. (CT)

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