I’ve recently become a fan of Ice Hockey, and after years of being completely ignorant of sports, I’ve had to learn a whole new vocabulary. I kept hearing them use the term “body checking,” and I was really confused. Finally, I had to look it up. “Oh. . . so they’re talking about slamming someone against the wall! It has nothing to do with examining anything.” Anyway, with that poor segue. . .
Today’s passage is the last one we’ll examine about the benefits of wisdom, and Solomon calls for us to keep an eye on our “body.” The first and foremost thing he tells us in this passage is to “guard your heart.” The term is referring to the “seat” of the person: your thought life, including your emotions, your will, and your decisions. As other translations have rendered it, it's the “wellspring of life.” Your thought life affects everything about you, including the aspects noted in the following verses.
Second he wants us to guard our speech. He tells us later in the book that “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Our Lord himself told us that “by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Specifically we’re supposed to avoid “perversity” and “corrupt talk,” something that a lot of us struggle with, especially when we’re around nonbelievers in the workplace. It’s really hard sometimes not to join in the “dirty joke” or office gossip, isn’t it?
Third, he counsels us to “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” What does that mean? Well, it seems to me that it’s telling us to avoid distractions. These distractions could be sinful temptations, or they could just be things that draw our attention away from what God wants us to be doing. I always visualize a horse with blinders on when I see this verse: All he’s supposed to care about is what’s in front of him, not every little detail that’s happening to the side. I'm also reminded that the author of Hebrews gets a little more specific, telling us to fix "our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
Finally we’re commanded to “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Watch where you’re going! If you’re obeying the previous verse (keeping your eyes fixed on what we need to be focusing on), this'll be a lot easier. Sometimes it might seem like our Lord’s leading us on dangerous pathways and it’d be safer to pick our own way. Don’t be fooled! Someone once told me that “No matter how it looks, the safest place in the universe is in the middle of God’s will.” Just like Bilbo in The Hobbit, our troubles always start when we get off of God’s pathway.
So why are these benefits of wisdom? Because if our hearts (meaning our thought life) is where it needs to be, if our mouths reflect Christ’s purity, if our attention is focused on God’s plan and we don’t get distracted, then what do we need to worry about? We’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache and pain in life, and the rewards--both in this life and the next—will make it more than worth it.
Lord Jesus, I’m trying to follow you, I really am. It’s so easy to get distracted, and not even by sin. It’s the little things that pull my eyes off of you. Help me. Please.
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