GATEKEEPER by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: Years ago, they used to sing a song in Sunday School, “O Be Careful Little Eyes.” How many of ya’ll remember that song? “O be careful little eyes, what you see,
O be careful little eyes, what you see, For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.” It had several other verses— “O be careful little ears, what you hear…O be careful little mouth, what you say…O be careful little hands, what you do…O be careful little feet, where you go.” Then, the final verse was— “O be careful little heart whom you trust.” There is so much truth in that song. I think we adults need to sing it! Did you know that song is at least 3000 years old? It comes from the Book of Proverbs! The message is this— “You are the gatekeeper to your heart. You can either let in things that bring you closer to Christ or you can let in things that take you away from Christ. The attack is real, intense, constant, and the cost is heavy.” We are in our miniseries from the Book of Proverbs called SKILLFUL, and today’s message is titled GATEKEEPER.
Proverbs 4 20 “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”
Question: How secure is your heart? What are you allowing or have allowed into your heart that is destroying you? Is Christ in your heart? Are you saved?
Context: To understand the true meaning of this passage, I want us to begin with verse 23. Then, we will look at the whole passage starting in verse 20. Listen to verse 23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The literal translation from the Hebrew is “Keep your heart ‘more than any’ guarded thing, for from it come the ‘origins’ of life.” To start with, the word for “origins” literally refers to the exits of a city. The imagery is of a fortified city. When we were in Israel, we saw many gates or hinges to the gates. The guide, my good friend Jacky, asked the question that I have heard him ask many times. What is the most vulnerable part of the city? The answer is “the gates of the city.” It may seem like that the gates would be the most secure part of the city but they’re not. Why? Not because they are made out of wood or anything but because all it takes is for someone from the outside to bribe someone from the inside to open the door. According to Solomon, the heart is the gate of the city. All it takes is for someone from the outside to bribe someone from the inside to open the heart. What does the heart represent? In ancient near eastern understanding (especially the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Egyptians), the heart was the combination of both the inner and the outer aspects of life. The inner includes the thoughts and the conscience; and the outer includes the words and the actions. In the NT, the word “mind” is used to refer to the “heart” of the OT. The heart or the mind is the immaterial part of every human being. The physical body is the material part. What is the heart or the mind made up of?
- The heart or the mind is made by God to connect with him.
- It is damaged because of sin until salvation.
- It is uniquely designed by the combination of our genetic ancestors, good and bad.
- The heart is softened towards God or hardened towards him by our upbringing.
- Our heart is redeemed by our acceptance of Christ or condemned because of our rejection of him.
- The more we grow in Christ, study his Word, and obey the Holy Spirit, the more our heart becomes open to the things of God.
- It is tarnished or transformed based on how we handle the circumstances of life.
Bottom line: The heart is the gate of life and it has to be guarded more than any other guarded thing.
How do we guard the heart, the gate of life? Let’s back up to verse 20 “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; The words of wisdom are the key to protecting our hearts. Listen with your ears and follow with your eyes. In other words, there is no substitute to the daily listening and reading of the Word of God.
Application: How is the daily listening and reading of the Word in your life? Is that a priority in your life? How is the weekly hearing of the Bible and daily personal reading of the Bible? Are you keeping it in the midst of your heart?
What is the cost of ignoring this command? 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.” In Hebrew, the word for life is “hayyim” and the word for live is “haya.” Hayyim is found 33 times in the book and haya is found 4 times. Unlike the English words “life” or “live” that simply mean “to exist”, the Hebrew can actually mean the “full life,” or “fullness of life,” or having “life indeed.” When Solomon talks about life/live, he is not just talking about “being alive” as a clinical life – having a pulse or a heartbeat or brainwaves. He is talking about a fullness of life. In other words, a person can be physically alive—but, emotionally and spiritually, feel dead. Here’s the principle: if you listen to godly wisdom, your heart will be healthy and your being will be full of life and health. If you reject godly wisdom, your heart will be sickly and your being will have a sickly appearance.Sin will wear you down. By the way, this is not just some Old Testament idea. Jesus also talked about having this kind of life in John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Jesus was talking about a life without regrets, free of envy, free of guilt, free of shame, free of bitterness, free to enjoy living in this world that God has given us.
Application: How is life for you? How do you feel?
We can fool others and even our own selves into thinking that our heart is healthy and everything is fine. Here’s the test:
- Speech Test
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.
Colossians 3 9 “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
- Vision Test
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.
Matthew 6 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
- Direction Test
26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”
Matthew 7 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Invitation: How is your speech? How is your vision? Which way are you headed? How is your heart? How is your life?
Romans 10 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.