Faith and Family Business: Checking your Heart (Proverbs 4:23)

By Bill Long on February 8, 2016

     We usually think of the Book of Proverbs as giving us practical wisdom for living in short, pithy statements.  Indeed, it does.  But we run the risk of missing the depths of the book if we ignore a more general and thought-provoking statement like this: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23).  Other translations have it as “Guard your heart more than anything else” or “watch over your heart with all diligence.”
     Why the emphasis on guarding or watching the heart?
     Proverbs believes we need to care for or tend our hearts because of the ease with which distractions come our way. For Proverbs, distractions may come through the choices we make and the company we keep. Using 21st century language, we are assaulted by all kinds of lures in life, and Proverbs would counsel us to take care before we act. This is especially true for those in family business, as the myriad and conflicting emotions, choices and relationships bring such complexity that it often is near impossible to center ourselves in the heart.
     But Proverbs also realizes that a well-guarded heart leads to good action in the world. On the one hand Proverbs talks about us maintaining a healthy path (“keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure,” 4:26); on the other hand it encourages us to act with generosity and compassion. As part of your morning routine, then, do a “heart check.” Ask God for vigilance in watching, protecting and encouraging it. Nothing, in fact, is more important.