There's been a few scriptures on my mind this week, and I see a connection between the two of them.
First, there's Proverbs 4:23 -- "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
There's a lot going on in these few, simple words. Maybe the most obvious is helping me answer the question: "What am I even doing??!". Have you ever found yourself doing something or saying something that surprised you? If you could take a step back for a moment and hear the words coming out of your own mouth, would it be shocking? Christians are called to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We are called to be encourages (Heb 10:24-25). We called to be peacemakers (Mat 5:9). And we are called to have a kind of speech that is kind and gracious (Col 4:6).
What am I even doing?!? Whatever my heart desires.
Another thing that surprises me about this passage is the priority placed on this teaching. We are told that "everything we do" (or say?) "flows from [the heart]", so the most important thing we can do is guard our heart. Some of us might come up with a few different answers, if we had a room full of people and we asked the question, "What's the number one priority as a Christian." Maybe it's to "love God" (Mat 22:37), or maybe it's "Love each other" (Mat 22:39), or maybe it's to be humble (Micah 6:8). These are all really good answers. Maybe there's four or five number one's! Don't worry about making the list, just listen to what this passage has to say: "Above all, guard your heart."
The second passage I had on my mind that I saw connected to the first was 2 Corinthians 10:5 -- " . . take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Going back to the first passage, we can again ask ourselves the same questions about our choices, actions, and words. If I could hear myself, would I be proud of the things I've said? Would God be pleased by my thoughts?
Without these taking actions on these two ideas, we instead run the risk of ourselves being held captive by our thoughts. Thoughts of doubt, fear, anger, frustration, arrogance, pride, dismay, confusion want to control us. These thoughts want to hold us captive, poison our hearts, and control our will. Instead of speaking the truth in love for the building up of the Kingdom of God, we could find ourselves enemies of God because we have let our guard down and become captive in our own minds.
Jesus wants to free you. Jesus had freed you. But you can allow yourself to return again to that prison of the mind when we give Satan a foothold. Don't be led by sin, be led by the Spirit "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:14-15).