LESSONS OF THE HEART
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. [New International translation]
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
[New International translation]
Many of the proverbs in the Book of Proverbs have been called “the wise sayings of King Solomon.” Solomon, the son of King David, was a wise man because GOD gave him wisdom. 1 Kings 4:29 states that GOD gave Solomon wisdom, understanding, and “largeness of heart,” which exceeded the wisdom of all those in the East and all the wisdom of Egypt.1 He was the wisest man of his time. (1 Kings 4:31) Solomon’s wisdom was as “measureless as the sand on the seashore.” (1 Kings 4:29) He wrote 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs. (1Kings 4:32).
Solomon’s great wisdom and understanding were a “gift” and “an offering.” It was not for self-gratification or self-aggrandizement. Solomon’s wisdom was for service. Knowing that he would one day become King, Solomon asked GOD (in a dream) for the wisdom to be a good leader and a good teacher to GOD’s people. And because Solomon loved GOD and had a heart for service, GOD answered Solomon’s prayer. 1 Kings 3:12.
And so Solomon began to study. Solomon “applied himself “and searched for understanding about “everything in the universe.” (Ecclesiastes 1:12-15) He was passionate about learning. He put “his heart” into the task. It wasn’t magical. It was hard work. After great effort and study, Solomon wrote what he had learned. He wrote a series of proverbs.
The lessons of Proverbs 3:5 and Proverbs 4:23; are some of the “lessons of the heart.”
According to Solomon, when we love GOD (i.e., when we get the heart right), then everything else falls in place. We just need to have a heart for GOD.
But Solomon is not oblivious to the fact that the world is full of temptations. Many things compete for our heart’s affection. So, Solomon warned: “guard your heart.” In essence, Solomon is saying: Watch where you go. Watch what you think. Watch what you do. Don’t let anything lead you away from loving GOD or from following GOD’s WORD.
Having a heart for GOD is a commitment, evident in our walk, our talk----in the things we do as well as the things we refrain from doing.
Giving our whole hearts to GOD is a lifestyle choice. It’s the only way to achieve spiritual fitness.
THE PHYSICAL HEART
Heart Disease is still Number One Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States.
According to the CDC (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention), about 655,000 Americans die of heart disease each year, about 1 out of every 4 deaths. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. See, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.
Even in the midst of the pandemic heart disease remained the leading cause of death in the U.S. for 2020. According to the CDC, Covid-19 ranks as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. based on provisional data. See, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7014e1.htm?s_cid=mm7014e1_w.
Some of the risk factors that can contribute to heart disease include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking. Id.
Some of the medical conditions and lifestyle choices that also put people at higher risk for heart disease include:
Overweight and obesity
Excessive alcohol use
Sometimes simple or small changes in lifestyle habits can make a difference between life and death. “10 small steps for a healthier heart,” offers the following suggestions to improve heart health and perhaps motivate us to make bigger changes. Instead of aiming for a “huge makeover,” some will find more success just by making some small changes. Harvard Health Publishing, a publication of Harvard Medical School, suggests considering the following small steps:
Take a 10-minute walk. [If you don’t walk at all, here is a great way to just start.]
Give yourself a lift. Just lifting a hardcover book or a two-pound weight a few times a day may help tone your muscles.
Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables tend to be inexpensive and generally good for you.
Make breakfast count. Start the day with some fruit, a serving of whole grain, like oatmeal, bran flakes, or whole-wheat toast.
Stop drinking your calories. Cutting out one sugar-sweetened soda or calorie-laden drink or latte can easily save you 100 calories or more a day. [Read the labels on your drinks today.]
Have a handful of nuts. Assuming that you are not allergic, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts are generally good for your heart. They can also be added to salads and are a great substitute for cookies and chips.
Sample the fruit of the sea. Eat fish or seafood instead of red meat at least once a week.
Breathe deeply. Try breathing deeply and slowly for a few minutes a day. It will help calm you and relax you.
Wash your hands often. Scrubbing with soap and water can help protect you from infections. Flu, pneumonia, and other infections can be hard on the heart.
Count Your Blessings. Taking a moment to give thanks and tap into positive emotions, which have been linked to better health, longer life, and greater well-being. Chronic anger, worry, and hostility may contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Harvard Health notes that these small suggestions are no attempt to give individual medical advice and certainly no substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or a qualified clinician. If you have a medical problem, you are on medication, have questions, or want more personal information about your heart’s condition, consult your personal physician.
Remember, the heart is a muscle. It is more likely to get stronger and be healthier if you lead a positive and an active lifestyle
SERVICE: A Spiritual Exercise for The Heart
For Solomon and for every servant of GOD, service to GOD is a spiritual exercise for the heart. When we love GOD, we serve.
If you have a service question, just ask GOD. Pray about it. There are plenty of places and ways to serve.
Pray we all learn to serve GOD with our whole hearts. Pray also for wisdom and discipline to protect the physical heart GOD has gifted each of us.
Pray, stay active, be wise and BE BLESSED!
1 See King James and Revised Standard translations.