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Devotion for Feb. 10, 2004

Devotions

It has become commonplace in the last several years to acknowledge that proper diet and adequate exercise are crucial elements of preventing heart disease. In fact, a University of Pennsylvania study found that exercise worked like certain prescription drugs in preventing heart disease.

In our culture, however, this welcome emphasis on physically healthy hearts isn’t combined with concern for spiritually healthy hearts. So consider today’s passage an ad for Spiritual Heart Check America!

We begin with the oft-repeated exhortation to pay attention to the father’s words, to listen and focus on them. In short, if we’re looking at God’s words, we won’t be focusing on others’ words. We see once again the importance of treasuring up God’s Word, because His words bring forth life and health. It’s been noticed that people who are angry or unforgiving often experience increased physical ailments. Verse 23 emphasizes this: the condition of our heart is to be protected at all costs.

Jesus taught the same thing. When the Pharisees accused His disciples of being unclean, Jesus replied, “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’ ” (Matt. 15:11). Thus today’s passages encourages us to monitor what we take in, not allowing an unfiltered stream to enter our hearts through TV, movies, magazines, and other media.

As before, the command to store up wisdom is followed with promised benefits. The link between wisdom and well-being is illustrated using various body parts. Our mouths and lips are to be free from crooked, deceitful speech (v. 24). (We’ll look more at the importance of speech later this month.) Our eyes are to focus straight ahead, suggesting that they shouldn’t wander into affairs that don’t concern us. Straight (v. 25) and level (v. 26) indicate integrity, righteousness, justice, and equity. Verses 26 and 27 could be summarized as follows: the level path is just and open for all to see; the crooked path is trying to get around something.

Apply the Word

Speech often indicates the true condition of our heart. It’s embarrassing to “slip” and to say something hurtful unintentionally, but this often reveals our true feelings. That’s why it’s good to be reminded that the condition of our hearts determines our words and actions. If we’re embittered toward others, we will find it nearly impossible to serve them and to look for their best. But if we have been cultivating edifying thoughts about others, we’re much more predisposed to love them through service and prayer.

BY Dana M. Harris

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