What are you full of? Are you full of joy because it’s that season? Are you full of sadness because this season wasn’t particularly pleasant for you? Are you full of regret, hatred, bitterness, or despair? All of us are full of something at one point or another in our lives. We fill our lives with lots of junk that’s not good for us, and I’m not just talking about food. Life throws junk our way all the time, and over time, that junk starts to become familiar and once it’s familiar, it’s like second nature for us. Ever wonder why someone acts the way they do? Ever look at your parents, siblings, or your boss and wonder: “Why on earth are they acting the way they are?” Most of the time, the way we act is based on that junk we’ve taken in over the years. The junk in our lives starts to build up and eventually we ourselves notice that junk in the corner of our lives. Life has a way of making this junk a cyclical action for all of us, but what can we do to keep our lives in check?
I have a story that has been passed around for a long time, but no one seems to know the source. I would like to share it with you and as you read, place your shoes in those of the little boy from this story.
There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry’, the wound is still there.”
We all have junk in our lives and for some of us, anger gets the best of us. Joby Saad, a Christian comedian says, “Stupid people are everywhere. You don’t have to look any further than your own backyard. I was looking in my backyard for some stupid people and locked myself out.” People will do dumb things and they will upset you from time to time, but you have to keep a very important thing in check: your heart.
We all have to keep our hearts in check, and I’m not referring to seeing your cardiologist, although you should keep that in check as well. I’m referring to your actions and your motives for committing those actions. We become familiar with things like anger and it becomes second nature to us. Someone does something stupid so your natural reaction is to get angry with them. Proverbs 4:23 say, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Guard your heart—that means to watch what you’re doing—keep an eye on the things you’re watching, saying, reading, and doing—protect yourself from the junk that life will throw at you. Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Every action you commit comes from your heart because you decided to commit that action. Every good and bad action comes because you decided in your heart to commit that action. We need to guard our hearts because it can produce good or evil.
When a kid does something wrong and is asked why they did it, what is their probably answer? “Because I wanted to” is probably what they will say. That’s our default position as well, we just don’t articulate it as we did when we were kids. We do things because we want to do them and it doesn’t matter what anyone else tells us because it’s our decision. What if that decision hurts someone else? What if that decision hurts you? What if that decision is sinful and doesn’t glorify God? We all need to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from it.
So what are you full of? Look at your life right now and ask yourself that question. Are we full of joy and peace from knowing Christ and being known by God, or are we full of hatred, bitterness, lust, addiction, and jealousy? A lot of us need to get our hearts checked more regularly and I don’t mean by a cardiologist. Guard your hearts from the junk that is around us.