Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

8 October 2021

Proverbs 23:12

Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ears to words of knowledge.

This is a good proverb to heed in a culture which teaches that the one thing we can trust is our heart.

“Go with your heart.”
“What does your heart tell you?”
“Follow your heart.”

Movies, TV, and the pop music industry (the real instruction institutions of our society) invariably teach that the heart is to be trusted over anyone and anything, especially in times of crisis. By listening to the heart, we will know when to go against conventional wisdom and when to defy the instructions even of the people we respect and love the most. The heart is supposedly the place of instinct, of innate knowledge.

For the Bible, the heart needs instruction just like the mind, indeed, more so. As Jesus said, “Out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts” (Matthew 15:19). Due to the fall, the heart loves sin. The heart “feels good” about the things God hates. Consider the bigoted mind that hates others of different races. Such a person acts on what his heart feels right. Even the wicked oppress the weak out of what feels right. They despise the weak and don’t understand why others do not as well.

Thus the heart needs instruction as to what is right and wrong. And more. For instruction, as essential as it is, cannot change the heart. The proverb says to apply your heart to instruction. There’s the rub. You must first desire instruction, and that takes a heart change. Where then is your hope? It is in God’s Spirit who can change your heart. Pray for such a work, and don’t fool yourself into thinking that because you have been regenerated by the Spirit, all the work needed has been done. The toughest case is the Christian who thinks by virtue of being Christian his heart is all right. Sanctification – the process of cleansing the heart from all sin – is a lifetime work. Start each morning praying for that work to continue in your heart, applying it to instruction.

 

Psalm 80

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
    come and save us.

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

How long, Lord God Almighty,
    will your anger smolder
    against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision[b] to our neighbors,
    and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
    and it took root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea,[c]
    its shoots as far as the River.[d]

12 Why have you broken down its walls
    so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
13 Boars from the forest ravage it,
    and insects from the fields feed on it.
14 Return to us, God Almighty!
    Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
15     the root your right hand has planted,
    the son[e] you have raised up for yourself.

16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
    at your rebuke your people perish.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.