Growing in maturity and wisdom allows you to learn how to guard your heart while at the same time keeping it open so that pure and right relationships are able to flow throughout your life. Negative and selfish relationships are able to be spotted early and by obtaining wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, you are able to know how to deal with these types of relationships. Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding will also allow you to know when to let these types of relationships go. When you are not wise on how to guard your heart while also giving and receiving love, while at the same time not knowing when to exercise boundaries, your life will be filled with unnecessary chaos, confusion, disorder, and frustration. It truly is a balancing act when you began to both guard your heart and yet keep it open so that you are not suppressing unforgiveness, bitterness, or hiding love from others.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
“Guarding your heart” is not limited to guarding your heart when it comes to spousal relationships, but all other relationships with family, friends, peers, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers. Guarding your heart extends to all areas of your life and also means to manage your emotions, thoughts, and feelings towards the circumstances in your life. It means to know when to “be angry but do not sin and don’t go to bed raged and bitter” (Ephesians 4:26); it means to not discipline your children for wrong/selfish/angry reasons, but discipline them in love; it means to strive to still honor and love your parents, regardless of neglect and abandonment; it means to know when to continue helping people, or know when to leave them in God’s hands. Without wisdom, one may think that to guard their heart, they must walk around with their hearts chained and securely locked, not letting anyone “in;” treating everyone the same or not giving others the benefit of doubt, due to mishaps, misunderstandings, and wrongdoing from others. These are improper ways of guarding your heart and will cause a great deal of sorrow and bitterness. We must learn to guard our hearts with wisdom, but not allow ourselves to be hindered by not living a life of love, faith, giving, and unity just because we are fearful of showing love and kindness, in fear that we will get hurt “again.” And this is where the balancing act comes in- “being wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove” (St. Matthew 10:16).
We must always give ourselves to praying and specifically speaking on guarding your heart, we must not hesitate to lift our voices and hearts up to the Most High in prayer for guidance and wisdom when we are not sure how to handle certain situations and people. No matter the situation, the Most High will answer your true prayers that are prayed in faith.
The Most High and Our Hearts
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”
“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Reading these verses forces you to carefully analyze every aspect of your life on a daily basis. It “shakes you up” and pushes you into the reality and graveness of the meaning of the verses.
I have purposed to be a woman of “right motives” so I always think about my own motives and why I do the things that I do. I also have pondered others’ motives, especially if they were linked or connected to me in some shape or form. I always strive to ask myself “why am I really doing this?” “Am I doing this to benefit myself solely; am I doing this to help others; am I rightfully helping myself and others; what does the Most High have to say about this?” (my favorite question I personally ask myself). Anything that we do, we must purpose to do for the Most High God with right and pure motives. If the motives are not right at the time, cease to do that particular work and wait until you deal with and overcome the negative motives and the motives are changed to pure ones.
We are workers on this earth with our own vineyards to work in. We have been assigned and given different tasks, duties, and responsibilities that we must complete in life within our unique vineyards. Our service is to be consciously and subconsciously for God, which will in turn inevitably bless others. We were created to praise, glorify, and live for the Most High so we must purposefully do all for Him to benefit those that are His. Colossians 3:17, 22-23 reads,
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
Verse 22 brings me to another subtopic which is the point of not doing your works and deeds for the eye service or approval of man. We know that we must respect others and those who are placed over us, but we should remember that it is God who gave us the job or position and our works are to be towards Him and again, our good works will inevitably work towards the good of others.
So we have to take care to work diligently in our own vineyards; doing a good service unto God, not to be praised and seen by man; and our works have to be with the right spirit, with right motives.
“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another; for every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:4-5).
“The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor”
(1 Corinthians 3:8).
These verses simply mean that we must be concerned and busy within our own business, works, and enterprise and not concerned with someone else’s. We must be grateful for the land we were made to till, patient and waiting until our own harvest, knowing that if we have right motives towards our business, we will reap a good harvest. Being concerned with the fruit of another man’s hands or their bountiful harvest may be a distraction or hindrance to you fulfilling your purpose. Briefly put, we must not strive to keep up with everyone else but be faithful in our own work because our sole purpose is to glorify God and build towards the kingdom.
All of our deeds, motives, and works will be manifested and brought into the light on judgment day. The Lord will reveal and openly display whether our works were of honor or dishonor; whether our motives were pure or defiled. Because we are not perfect and sometimes do not even understand our own motives unless we really sit and think about them, we must always be praying and asking the Most High whether the work or action is His will or not.
“For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
“Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid” (1 Timothy 5:25).
The best gift that was and is given to mankind is eternal life. We all look towards it and hope for the time when all of our pain, sorrow, ailments, woes, and mortal bodies will be no more. I must add that I just don’t want to barely make it in though. That’s a blessing just to make it in, but I surely want all of my works to be counted that I did here on earth so that I receive all my blessings in heaven. The Most High is so compassionate towards us to the extent that even if our works are not up to par or we did not accomplish all that we were to, we still may be able to partake in the gift of eternal life. All of our works will be tested by fire and truth:
1 Corinthians 3:11-15
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;”
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
Wow, this is amazing grace!! We still should strive to give our all, do our very best, fulfill all of our purpose here on earth, and work in patience and humility to receive full reward; we must no lose sight of our mission and the gift that lies ahead!
“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 1:8).
Something to ponder:
We as jewels do not want to physically count all the works we do here on earth. In other words have a mindset that says, “oh I did that deed, I did that good thing, I did a lot of good things this month.” We want to look at our good works, commend ourselves, and pat ourselves on the back, but not to the point where you’re counting them one by one and assuming that they count. How many of those good deeds is the Most High counting? Only those which were done in purity towards the Lord and those we did in which we were led by the Holy Spirit to do.
“For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:18).
Lord, may our works and deeds be acceptable in your sight, and may you find us worthy in that day, though we are not. Amen.
I remember my sophomore year in high school reading Robert Frost’s, The Road Not Taken (for some reason my mind always wants to title his poem The Road Less Traveled). Many have their own interpretation of the poem as it can be used as a metaphor or an analogy in life itself, but because I was familiar with Christ’s parable of the broad and narrow gate, I instantly thought of this parable after being introduced to the title. Because I already had my “aha” moment when reading the scriptures on this particular parable, the poem unfortunately did not have that spark that it was intended to have, though I enjoyed reading the poem nonetheless. Like Christ’s parable, the poem referenced choosing between two roads- the author took the road less traveled.It’s truly amazing how the Father loves us so much that through Christ, He tells us His perfect will, explaining that there are two roads in life to choose from, but He straightforwardly informs uswhich road to choose. Christ says “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Now, Christ does not venture off into a lesson describing exactly, verbatim what we should do, (remember when Christ spoke with his disciples, he purposed to speak in parables because wisdom, secrets, knowledge, and understanding about how to truly live to obtain everlasting life is only meant for those who are called according to God’s purpose) but as you study and meditate on the Word, a child of God will without a doubt began to obtain secrets to the kingdom and will see how God has laced the bible with keys and scriptures on exactly how to live-the bible being our map, blueprint, and compass for life.Since 5 I felt I did not belong here. I literally felt like an alien; like earth was not my home and deep within my spirit, I needed to go back with the Father. I would say to myself “why am I here because I don’t want to be here at all.” My spirit was always led to do different things outside of what everyone else was doing or what the majority deemed acceptable. So while reading this verse as a child and teen, I instinctively knew what it meant- simply, don’t follow the crowd or what everyone else is doing. It was already within my DNA to know that most of the time, when I see a large group of people doing something, do the opposite; take the other route. And I always did. Having the gift of discernment and following this verse since I was a child has helped me overcome much in life and I can only thank and praise our Heavenly Father for my gifts and the wisdom he gave me at such a young age. On a deeper note, the verse quoted above concludes that most people are following everyone else while they all follow the evil one to his kingdom. This is evident as we view and observe today’s society and we witness all of the disorder that is acceptable and applauded. We also can see a symbol of those who follow the narrow gate in our everyday lives. These are usually people standing for Christ, seeking God, and choosing to live a righteous life. These individuals, like Christ, are ignored, overlooked, or underestimated in life. These individuals are very few in numbers. Let’s ponder some significant scriptures regarding how our Heavenly Father instructs us how to live to honor His perfect will for us that is ultimately our destiny here on earth:After giving laws, commandments, and covenants through Moses to the holy people, God instructs Moses further on how to to lead them. Deuteronomy 30:15-18 states, “see, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it; but if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.” Though the context of these scriptures were written in the Old Testament for God’s chosen during that time frame, they, like all others are given for inspiration and are still vital for God’s chosen today.Verses 19 and 20 ties it all in and once again, God tells us what road to choose:“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live;” “That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”More scriptures for pondering and understanding:“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).“Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Proverbs 19:21).“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Quite plainly has our Father mapped out our destiny for us. The bible is used as the spiritual guidance we need to know exactly what we are to do on this earth to live out our full potential on earth. Many may read all the scriptures in the bible on gifts, talents, and purpose and still question what specifically is their purpose. I was in this dilemma for a great amount of time and I really had to pray and seek God for what it is I am to do in life. Some have one or two specific gifts and some have numerous. In any case, we are to use ALL of the gifts He has given us. Some gifts may be discovered early or later on in life, but one must seek guidance on what they should be doing for that particular season they are in.Once you have decided to choose life through Christ and choose God to be your head, you have inevitably chosen a beautiful, rewarding destiny here on earth that will lead to a greater future for eternity. This is the path to everlasting life.Rare jewels must “strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24) and know that God’s purpose is the very BEST we can ever dream of having.We must choose His ways and trust that He will direct each and every one of us until the end, as He remains faithful.
Some are natural-born sprinters and others prefer the more grueling long-distance run of a marathon. The comparison of distance for both races are obviously different in length and time and a more note worthy topic is the fact that a sprinter can see or view their lanes; they see other sprinters in close proximity, within their own lanes; they also are able to actually see the finish line and know the race will soon be over. A marathon runner, on the other hand, cannot see the 26.2 miles that is set before them. They can only think about the run ahead of them and wisely plan how they will conquer it.
Have you ever tried to rush your life; maybe consciously or unconsciously? The question seems odd, but if you sit down and reflect on some of the outcomes and end results in your life, you most likely did on many different occasions. That decision you made that caused some type of loss; that agreement with someone you should not have; maybe you even rushed into the current situation you are in at the present moment. Now, this is not to bash or condemn but to sound an alarm to STOP. Stop trying to figure things out in your own strength. Stop trying to plan your entire life to the last minute detail. It is wise to plan ahead and for the future, but not out of desperation. Doing so shows that one fears their future. You are anxious and worried about your life and try to do everything in your stead so that circumstances line up perfectly, all in your favor.
I have done this many times before and really didn’t know I was doing so. I was shamed to ponder about times when I did this because it revealed that I did not really trust God or I questioned if what He was doing was good enough for me. It also showed a form of pride in which I thought I knew what was best for me. Hmm. But God loves me more than I can comprehend to the extent where He broke me (like He does all of His children) at different times, each time lower than the last, until I reached the point of brokenness. I thought I had fully surrendered to my Father, but apparently I hadn’t. The state of brokenness is really when the Most High can do His best work in you. This is the moment when He is gracious enough to show us how much we really need Him. This is the point when you have no other option but to surrender your entire life and trust Him even when your mind relapses to want to do things in your own stead.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles; the Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalms 34:17-18).
“For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering; the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
At this place of brokenness, I cried out to God and demanded what my life was all about. Why am I going through all of “this” if I have always tried to live an honest life of virtue; what is really going on here? God told me He “will perfect that which concerns me and will not forsake His own work” (Psalms 138:8) and “being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
This definitely gave me a boost and helped me trust God more. On your own personal journey, you ask God many questions and ponder why your life seems to be “stuck in slow-mo.” God has an answer for that too:
“I returned,and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,neither yet bread to the wise,nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
“For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south;but God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:6-7).
So we see that no matter how hard we may try to form and shape our lives to what we think it should be, some things will not go as planned. The runner in the other lane who may be slower than you just might outrun you in the particular dash you are running. The rude and inconsiderate employer may be promoted yet again. Their time and chance came and yours does too. This is part of the journey.
The journey is long, hard, and many times confusing but if it is built and founded on Christ, we have a greater assurance of knowing that “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). It is not for sprinters and for those who are easily tired and faint. It is for those marathon runners who know that roughness, jaggedness, splinters, and bruises lie ahead but they have come to the point where they accept the journey and know that the Lord will “order their steps in His word” (Psalm 119:133) and He will “lead and guide us into the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3). They have concluded that their journey is all (with the Almighty) or nothing.
Let God break you. Come to a place of full surrender in which you have given over your entire life for Him to direct and guide. Pray and ask God about His specific plan for your journey. Know that His plan for your life is perfect and it is the very best He has designed for you. Understand that when we “poke and pick” with the journey God has for us, we will have disappointments, be angry at God, and delay our own journey.
I have come to a place where I cast all my burdens to Lord- well I literally throw them at Him. I say, “Why am I worrying about this issue that is too big for me. Lord, take these issues; I’m not dealing with them. I have other things to worry about so you can handle them for me; you got this, right Father, because I sure don’t” and then I laugh and go on about my day. I “stay in my lane” and let God deal with the complexities of my life.
At the end of my journey, I would like to be like my brother Paul. Paul ended his journey and said,
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
True love is pure and unconditional and the only way we can love others in a pure way is knowing Christ. It may sound cliché and many may know this, but who is truly loving others unconditionally?
Love is demonstrated by one expressing it through love or by actions and deeds. Sometimes one may “feel” love because it can be demonstrated through your emotions, but what about the times when you don’t really feel like showing or expressing love, but really want to show or voice your love for someone? Even deeper; what if you don’t feel like showing or expressing love and don’t want to show it due to mishaps, feelings, misunderstandings, lack of communication, etc. Knowledge and understanding of true love through Christ will allow you to inevitably demonstrate it regardless of circumstances or how you feel. Lack of knowledge of true love allows one’s love to be perverted, tainted, and distorted. Overall, one not always need to say “I love you” because they may not truly mean it; if anything, we should rather show others we love them by our actions- like God did by sending Christ to the world and like Christ showed when he chose to submit himself to death.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
In order to love others unconditionally, you have to learn and understand the love of the Most High and Christ- love without the Father and Son will always be mixed with carnality. We must know that if we are called and chosen for Him, we are loved unconditionally regardless of our circumstances in life. We are truly loved by the Most High in the current state we are in no matter how we look, how much money we have, or how our possessions look. God does NOT love us the way our parents, siblings, spouses, friends, or relatives love us; not even the way we love ourselves because our love for one another in some shape or form may not always be filled with perfect love, as we are not perfect individuals and some of us are still learning to love ourselves unconditionally. We will always strive to live in perfect love, but there will sometimes be breaches in our love showing us that God’s love supersedes ours: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord; or as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
First, understand and accept the love of God and Christ- our Father and Christ loved us first
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him; herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9).
In order to love others unconditionally, we must understand His love and also love ourselves unconditionally- taking care of ourselves, uplifting ourselves, and encouraging ourselves, because how can one love others if they don’t know or understand the love of the Father and Christ, yet alone even demonstrate true love to themselves?
Next, Learn to love yourself through Christ
“He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good” (Proverbs 19:8).
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cheriseth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:29).
And then you will learn and grow to love others the way you are to
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:7, 11).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another; by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13: 34-35).
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
So, know that God loves you more than you will truly understand. You must learn to love and serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; Christ has demonstrated his love through his own life; we must learn to love and nurture ourselves; we will then strive to love others as we imitate Christ.
Many are familiar with the following verse, but we still must diligently seek to live it:
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up;doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (1 Cor 14:4-8).
I encourage you to re-read and read again; then deeply meditate on how we are to love
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:9).
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