My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. Proverbs 4:20-27 (NRSV)
The advice of Mother or Father to a child should carry the kind of weight and wisdom Solomon shared with his children – that which he’d learned at his father, David’s knee. The wisest man ever shared with his son how “guarding his heart” was the greatest and most urgent requirement for living a godly life. Can it be said any plainer than that? Unguarded is unprepared!
My first-ever practice with our high school football team demonstrated to me what can happen if you are unguarded. The coach wanted me to catch a pass. I’d rehearsed the “moves” in my mind…four quick steps off the line, zig left, cut right, up the field for a touchdown; I was going deep!
The defensive player guarding me let me take the first step forward and then knocked me on my blessed assurance! I was concentrating so much on my fancy footwork and the praise the coach would heap on his best new wide receiver…I never saw it coming. There was no touchdown for me, only a great lesson about being “unguarded” (and a ringing-in-the-ear headache)!
Remember what Solomon said:
Ears open – listen to wise advice and poor advice with heart mind and soul, but make sure you are prepared to separate the wheat from the chaff; weigh advice carefully!
Heart straight – don’t be easily thrown off track; know your goals and stay on course.
Eyes on the road – concentrate; distractions will sideline you if you snooze!
Sure foot – recognize evil for what it is and stick with truth.
Guard your heart and hearth.
Life is indeed a tough teacher, but it’s more than just the elements and chance occurrences of circumstances. There is also the enemy, Satan; he is “roaming about, seeking whom he may devour”. (1 Peter 5:8)
Don’t be unguarded; put on the full armor of God!