Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart with all diligence.” This is more than just be careful what or whom you love. This takes us back to the theme a week or so ago. Be careful what you treasure; Be careful what you set your affections and thoughts on.” DA Carson in his devotional “For the Love of God” commented the following on Proverbs 4, “What you set your mind and emotions on determines where you go and what you do.” Sounds like what Paul Tripp has said, “Your treasure will control your heart. And what controls your heart will control your behavior.”
In Proverbs 4:24-26 Solomon precedes this verse with these thoughts, “Put away perversity from your mouth, keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead.. Make level paths for your feet.” Then he concludes by saying, “But above all, guard your heart. It is the source of everything..” What comes out of our mouth, the things that catch our eyes, the path that directs our feet, are all influenced greatly by our heart.
In 2 Tim 2:4 Paul reminds Timothy that a soldier doesn’t entangle himself with civilian pursuits. A soldier is singly focused on being the best that he can be. In order to do that, he knows he can’t be distracted. If he is distracted, it could get him killed. In Hebrews 12:1 the author tells us to “lay aside every weight, AND the sin that easily besets us.” Sin is not the only thing that hinders us and distracts us from being singly focused on “Looking unto Jesus.” That was Paul’s concern for the Corinthians in 2 Cor 11:3, “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning YOUR THOUGHTS will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
In our orientation classes yesterday we talked about the concept of simplicity. The idea of simplicity is not just trying to live with as little possessions as possible. It’s more like a spiritual discipline. It’s continually working toward removing anything that distracts us from being able to focus all of our resources (time, energy, money, thoughts) toward the task God has called you to do. Paul said in Acts 20:24 “I do not count my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish the course and the ministry I received from the Lord..”
Our coworker explained it like this. If someone has hired you and is paying you $150,000 a year, how diligent are you going to be to make sure you accomplish the work / the task that he has hired you to do? How diligent are you going to be in order to ensure you keep your job? God has “hired” us for a far greater and more important task than any kind of earthly employer.
Another way to think about this is, when you were in school, or if you still are, and you know you have a major test or exam coming up. How does that motivate you and how does that affect the priorities on your time and energy? Most of us clear our schedule of everything that is not absolutely necessary in order to take the time to prepare for that exam. That’s the picture of simplicity. Clearing out everything that is not absolutely necessary in order to devote every resource we have to the task God has given us to do.
In many ways this is how Jesus lived his life. In John 7:17-18 Jesus describes his ministry as seeking the glory of the one who sent Him. He didn’t let anything or anyone distract him from that. In John 5:30 Jesus also said, “I can do nothing on my own… I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
- Simplicity is simplifying my life so I can be singly focused… focused on what God has given me to do. Everything else, aside from the essentials, needs to be set aside in order for me to devote my full energy to the task God has given me to do.
- I want to live like Jesus did. Only doing what pleases my Father. Completely available for God my Father doing His work through my body. (John 14:10)