Guarding Your Heart Against Agitation

 READ: Proverbs 4:23; Psalm 37:3-7

It is a rarity on network news programs to hear much that is positive.  In fact, as I write this post, I am hearing a litany of reports about potential riots in large cities across our country.  In addition, there are reports of people in corporate and government positions of power that are being investigated for potential criminal activity.  Chances are, if you are like me, you feel personally betrayed and cheated. These kinds of experiences happen all the time.  And our emotions go from confusion to outright frustration and anger. 

The problem is that our agitation with the way things are brings damage to our souls that we may not realize at first.  And since we are commanded in Scripture to “guard our hearts” (PROV 4:23), we must meet life’s agitating moments with a biblical alternative.  And that alternative is found in Psalm 37.

You will want to notice in verse 1 that we are met with a very direct command.  That is, we are told to “not be agitated,” a directive that is repeated in verses 7 and 8.  However, it is one thing to be told what NOT to do.  The ultimate question is, “What SHOULD we do?”  Read Psalm 37:3-7 one more time.  Did you notice on further review that the LORD is mentioned four times in our passage?  The very mention of His name should give us insight into an important principle that will help us to protect our souls from spiritual danger.  That is, WHEN EVIL SEEMS TO BE WINNING, NURTURE A GOD-CENTERED HEART.  Let’s take a look at how we might nurture this kind of heart for God.

The first step, according to the psalmist, is to “trust in the LORD and do what is good.”  The concept of doing good is more than helping those in distress or giving time and money for good causes.  The “good” in this context has to do with our daily responsibilities—going to work, loving the people around us, and caring for the things entrusted to us.  The second half of the verse gives even further clarification. We are told to “dwell in the land and live securely.”  That is, we are to go about our daily responsibilities, not just believing that God exists, but believing He is present to protect us and use us for His purposes.

To nurture a God-centered heart means that we believe God is with us in everything that we do.

The second means of nurturing a God-centered heart is found in verse 4.  The psalmist tells the reader to “delight in the Lord.”  The word “delight” is translated in some places as an action of treating something with care as a great treasure or delicacy.  In this verse the imperative has the idea of giving extended time to looking at the beauty, greatness, and majesty of the LORD.  In the end, the psalmist tells us “God will give us our heart’s desire.”  The interesting thing about delighting in the Lord is that the more we delight in Him, the more His desires become our desire.

To nurture a God-centered heart is to focus on the character and attributes of the living God.

A third way to nurture a God-centered heart is found in verses 5 and 6.  Here the psalmist exhorts his readers to “commit their way to the LORD.”  The picture behind the command is one of packing up all that represents our plans, our hopes, and our dreams, and then giving them to God for His use.  It is like saying, “Here I am, LORD, do with my agenda whatever you want.”  In the end we are told that evil might seem to be winning for a season, but God will ultimately vindicate His people (cf. v. 6). 

To nurture a God-centered heart means that we will surrender our lives and plans to Him to do with them whatever He wants.

A final means of nurturing a God-centered heart is found in verse 7.  The psalmist says “be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him.”  These back-to-back imperatives emphasize the single action of waiting for God to act.  It’s a lot like waiting at the airport in baggage claim for a loved one to return from an extended trip.  You notice from the airport monitor that the plane has landed.  And yet you watch the gate, knowing that your loved one will walk through the door any minute. Sometimes the “wait” seems to last forever! Then the door opens and the person you have been hoping to see stands in your very presence.  That kind of waiting is similar to what we are to do with the LORD. Scripture tells us that He will eventually eliminate sin and evil from the earth.  Until that happens, we must believe He will do what He says in His perfect timing. 

To nurture a God-centered heart is to trust in the perfect, wise timing of God to complete what He says He will do.

Maybe one of the best things we can do is to stop listening to the evening news.  It only seems to exalt how bad things are in our world.  But don’t just wait around and continually get agitated.  No, guard your heart!

Nurture a God-centered lifestyle that will sustain you for time and eternity!

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