The Verbs #4
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.”
Proverbs 4:23-27 MSG
Have you ever put something together and not liked the end result? I recently purchased a new grill. I love to cook outside all year around, it is one of the great joys of my life. I researched out nearly every grill on the market. I compared them, read their reviews and received opinions from other people on the right charcoal grill for me! Finally, after saving back for months I went on my expedition to purchase my new grill. I bought the grill, a cover for it and a few other accessories to make it top notch. The next Friday I began to put it all together. If you know me at all, you know that patience is not something I am good at. I tried to have patience but I got tired of waiting on it. Nonetheless, I emptied the box of all the contents, took a look at the picture and and began to assemble my grill.
Earlier in Proverbs 4 there is a distinction made between knowledge and wisdom. You see, by looking at the picture I had gained some knowledge, but lacked wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to properly apply the knowledge. I lacked wisdom because I hadn’t read the instruction manual. I didn’t know the proper steps or the proper order of how to put the pieces together that I had emptied out of the box.
Now after about twenty minutes, I had it put together! It looked just like the picture on the box. The problem was the box only showed the outside of the grill. Where I ran into an issue was when the grill looked right on the outside, but it wasn’t put together right on the inside. The instruction manual that I finally read, after trying it my way multiple times, stated to start with components that were on the inside. See all of the outside stuff I had put together had to attach to the parts that were on the inside. When I attempted to finalize the assembly of the inside of my grill, there was nothing there. All because I didn’t start in the right place. I started, I just didn’t use wisdom. I was mad, angry, frustrated about the step or the position that I was in at that point. However, I should’ve been upset with how I started. My start was dictating my finish! I realize now that so much of that project would have been easier had I just started it right in the beginning. I forced, stripped and bent parts to make it work. If I had started it right, it would’ve went together exactly like the maker of the product designed it to go together.
No doubt, you have faced similar circumstances in your life. We face the temptation to do it our way. We want to skip a few steps, look at the picture of someone else’s life and try to make our life fit into that picture. You’re seeing the outside. You really have no idea what it took to make that marriage, friendship, success or moment for that person. Remember, you are comparing your reality, and the daily play-by-play of your life, to someone else’s highlight reel.
Comparison is a dangerous thing. You look at the picture of someone or something and begin to compare yourself. Condemnation sets in. You are comparing the place that you are in life, with the place that you perceive them to be. Perception is so much greater than reality. You have perceived something about their life, and then compared it to the reality of your own life and you’ve come up short in your own mind. No doubt, there is a real gap between where you desire to be and where you are at. That, in and of itself, can cause emotions to rise. To compare your gap of where you thought you’d be, versus where someone else appears to be, is a losing battle.
I believe that’s why we must guard our own heart. Stick to the instruction manual for your life. Don’t get distracted, impatient or jealous. If you start with any of those emotions, you’ll not like the finished project at all. If you want to improve your life, guard against starting it out wrong. Many people are wanting to change the circumstances of their life, but are often so unwilling to improve themselves. The key to success isn’t blowing someone else’s candle out so that yours shines brighter! No, its becoming the finished product that God wants YOU to be.
We must be on guard. I Peter 5:8-9 tells us:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Read that last part again, knowing that the same sufferings you experience are also being experienced by your brotherhood. He says to be on guard because your adversary is trying to devour you. One of the ways is to make you believe that you’re the only one that is going through a trial. We resist the adversary by understanding that all of us go through some rough times. In other words, behind the sweet picture that you have become so jealous of, there is pain and life behind it. The enemy desires to devour you from the inside out, and he starts on the unguarded heart.
So just like my grill that I worked on to make it look like the picture on the box, but I completely missed that the outside was actually dependent upon the inside being put together first; Jesus taught in Matthew 5 about inward attitudes, and then later He focused on the outside. Our outward activities are built on the inward attitudes that we possess.
So guard your heart, for out of it are the issues of life.