The secret to a joyful life: Guard your heart

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“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

That passage from Proverbs 4:23 is sound wisdom for all people, especially in today’s highly-charged political and cultural climate. In order to guard our heart, we must watch our intake of information.

Frank Outlaw, the late president of Bi-Lo Stores, wrote an opinion column for a Texas newspaper in May 1977 and included this brilliant wisdom:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

It is critically important that we watch our thoughts. What we allow into our minds and, more importantly, what we allow ourselves to dwell upon, has a major impact on our actions today and our ultimate destiny.

God tells us to guard our hearts, because that’s the space he wants to occupy – the heart. Everything we do flows from the heart.

Satan, on the other hand, has a different idea. In Isaiah 14:13, Satan promises that he wants his throne to be above God’s. Well, if God wants your heart, where is Satan taking his battle for supremacy? Above your heart to your mind.

In Matthew 6:22, Jesus is quoted as saying, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Is it any wonder the world is in the shape it’s in today? Many people are angry all the time. They’re always on the verge of outrage even though the news or situation doesn’t impact their lives directly and they are powerless to do anything to effect change.

We’ve become a nation of the habitually offended. We often look for ways to be offended or we expect to be when we engage in certain behaviors (read the news), visit certain places and listen to certain people.

If everything we dwell upon is negative, how dark is our soul?

I made this observation a few months ago. I don’t read nearly as much news today as I did even a year ago. But, one day I happened to be scanning news stories and I realized there is no “news” anymore, especially when it comes to political news. It’s the same old garbage from yesteryear, just with different players and repackaged and presented as new.

The writer of Ecclesiastes 1:9 hit it right on the nose when he noted, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When we partake in news today, we’re actually allowing propaganda to influence our minds. Look at any news story and almost all are just reporting someone’s tweet, Facebook post or press release. These carefully-crafted public relations messages are packaged into 15-second soundbites, 140-character tweets or two-sentence posts.

They are designed not to convey information, but to influence your way of thinking. They aren’t allowing you to explore both sides of an issue, but rather working to persuade you to adopt a particular agenda.

You can see evidence of that today. The 2020 presidential election is still 21 months away. Yet, everyday, the news media reports the latest poll results showing who is up or down. It reports who said what, and who was offended by the words. It is an endless litany of outrage, and anxiety.

Want more joy, happiness and rest in your life? Then shut off the TV, turn off Internet news, stop viewing pornography and don’t let people you don’t know work to pollute your mind.

Turn on a podcast or audiobook, watch a sermon on YouTube, tend to a garden or relax to your favorite music. Adjust your routine and do that for seven days and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. People around you will notice the dramatic change in attitude and you can be their hero by sharing the secret of peace and joy you discovered.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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