My wife and I are hoping to relocate to another part of the Midwest in the very near future. You know what that means. Packing! Yes, we have started what looks like a long process of taking glasses and plates down from cupboards and carefully wrapping them for eventual shipment. We spent hours the other day securing and protecting glasses and plates that will be unpacked in our next residence…only to be stored in another set of cupboards. As I participated in this necessary “work ritual” I wondered to myself if I was taking the same amount of care in protecting my own soul.

Some days I do, but in all honesty there are a lot of days that I don’t. In fact I reminded you last week that God exhorts us to “guard our hearts (our souls) above all else” (PROV 4:23). Why guard our souls? The verse goes on to say that the “heart” is the source of life. The wisdom writer is saying that we take information into our hearts (our souls/our minds) and then determine how we will think and act. If we are not on guard as to what we take in, we end up believing half-truths and lies that are contrary to the ways of God.

So what do we do to “guard our hearts”? There are lots of things. But in this post and the two that follow, I want to remind you of three important steps we can take to guard our hearts. What I will be telling you is nothing new. Most readers have heard these things before. And yet, we often need reminders to get our lives back on course and moving in the direction of God’s will and ways. 

Here’s today’s reminder. It comes from Psalm 119. You may recall that this psalm has 176 verses arranged in 22 separate sections. Each line of each section begins with the same letter in alphabetical sequence from the Hebrew alphabet. And the psalm in its totality is a song of praise to God and His Word. Consider just one verse: I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You (PS 119:11). The meaning of this verse is straightforward. Some translations use the word “hidden” in place of “treasured.” The picture is that of an individual who sees the richness in God’s Word (God’s Law) and keeps stockpiling biblical truth for later use. It’s like the farmer who stores grain for his animals to consume in the winter months. Or it’s like a couple that keeps putting a portion of their income aside to draw upon for future purchases. In the context of Psalm 119, God’s Word is to be hidden away, so that when one needs to know the difference between truth and error, a ready supply of God-given information will be available. 

Now how does that happen? The writer is assuming that there is a process of reading, pondering, and certainly memorizing the Word of God. This was a common practice in the ancient Hebrew world where there were no televisions, no movies, or distracting gadgets. So an individual—probably in a family setting—would memorize the Scriptures along with brothers and sisters. Scripture became the topic of mealtime conversations. And like other psalms, the words were probably sung over and over in a variety of gatherings

However, it is important to know that memorization alone did not prevent a person from committing sin. The key element is that the person doing the memorizing would compare everyday thoughts with biblical thoughts. At some point a choice would be made. The choice would be either to believe God and what He said or believe what was being heralded by the world. So the process is not simply “memorizing” something. It is more a matter of “making a choice” to ponder God’s word and then…OBEY what He says!

So how important is it for you to care for your soul and to keep yourself from disappointment and disaster? [Read that sentence again before moving on!] Throughout the course of any given day you are going to be confronted with hundreds of ideas. Many of them come into your hearing carefully packaged and exceedingly attractive. But a large percentage of those ideas are…LIES! And you will be faced with innumerable decisions. Your “heart” will be forced to choose, and your life will be sent down a path that could lead to great heartache. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a choice. Guard your heart above everything else you do! And start the guarding process by meditating on God’s truth, and then…MAKE THE CHOICE to do whatever He says.

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