Social media has changed the way we use certain words. Take ‘follow’ for example. It means something completely different now than not too many years ago. For today, let’s stay with the more traditional meaning.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do. Avoid all perverse talk; stay far from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. (Prov 4:23-27 NLT)
Today’s Scripture passage warns us to be wary of who we follow–to whom we listen, from whom we receive advice, who we emulate (imitate, seek to be like), etc. In other words, we must be careful who we allow to influence our lives.
This passage admonishes us to take responsibility for our actions. What we do is not the fault of our parents, teachers, employers, circumstances, or ancestors. Our lives–and everything we do or do not do while living them–are our own responsibility. If we reap the consequences of unwise decisions, we have ourselves to blame.
Another point implied in today’s passage is to take accountability for our lives. It is similar in meaning to ‘responsibility’ but is more comprehensive. Being responsible means that the decisions we make come back to us. Being accountable means that we are required or expected to justify our actions or decisions to someone.
In this case, we are accountable to God. Some folks do not like this idea. They want to be “free agents.” The truth is that we all are accountable to God. There is no way out of it and there are no “free agents.” Whether they believe Him or not, every person is still accountable. 1 Peter 4:5 is clear: “But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (NIV)
In a conversation with a teen family member not too long ago, we explained to her the “meaning of life” and introduced and explained Jesus to her. She, looking for a way out, asked, “What if I just don’t believe it?” “You’re accountable anyway,” we said. She did not like that. Too bad. And that is essentially what we told her.
Living responsibly and accountable does not happen by accident. If left to happenstance, it will NOT happen. Only by intentional decisions and corresponding actions will it be so. Today’s passage conveys this clearly, saying in so many words, “It’s up to you: Make it happen!”
Verse twenty-three is the summary: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” There is a big word in that verse. ‘Everything’ means, well, everything. Is there anything more than everything? No, because everything is … everything.
So, guarding our heart (spirit) affects everything we do. Think about it: This is the key to life! Therefore, give careful consideration to what you open your spirit to. Why? Because it affects everything.
God has given us these keys–formulas, even–to living decent, responsible, and accountable lives. We cannot always control circumstances. We should never control people. But we can and MUST control ourselves. We are accountable to God to do so. Today’s passage is a “how to” primer.
(c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved • http://www.e-min.org