John Flavel's work on Proverbs 4:23, Keeping the Heart, is unsurpassed. It is a book I refer to often and never cease to be blessed by it. Below are a few thoughts on the six special means for keeping the heart.
USE OF DIRECTION. Six special means for keeping the heart:
Means 1: Furnish your hearts richly with the Word of God, which is their best preservation against sin.
How can we ever disagree with this direction? We need to bury ourselves in the Word at every opportunity. We enhance our understanding in further study by listening to sermons and lectures and reading good literature like this book we're looking at today.
Means 2: Call your hearts frequently to an account.
When was the last time any of us have done this or performed this on a regular basis? Not often enough is my own confession and that's probably a good guess for most of us. Its difficult to take a hard look at one's self and be honest. We must also be on guard against morbid introspection as well.
Means 3: Take heed of plunging yourself into such a multiplicity of earthly business that you cannot manage without neglecting your main business.
In other words, are we so involved in the world, i.e., job, friends, material goods, hobbies, yes - even family, that we have no time to keep our hearts? Sadly its often the case for us all.
Means 4: Carefully observe your heart's first declinings from God and stop the there.
This takes much vigilance. Monitoring your heart in the midst of our busy lives takes much work.
Means 5: Take heed of losing the liveliness and sweetness of your communion with God, lest thereby your hearts be pulled off from God.
Is your devotional time boring, is church losing its attraction, local Bible studies just too hard to attend? Its time to take a look at your heart.
Means 6: Habituate your hearts to spiritual meditations if you would have them free from those burdensome diversions.
We need to focus on what is truly important in this world and not on what is passing (Matthew 6:19-21). As difficult as these means are we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us through.
Flavel closes the outline by citing three comforts for those who have such hearts:
Comfort 1: This argues your heart to be upright and honest, whatever your gifts and abilities are.
Comfort 2: Know further, for your comfort, that God would never leave you under so many heart-troubles and burdens if He intended not your real benefit thereby.
Comfort 3: God will shortly put a blessed end to all these troubles, cares, and watchings.
- From Keeping the Heart by John Flavel.