"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
‘Keep thy Heart with All Diligence’
Not only does God bid you to keep your heart; He requires you to do it ‘with all diligence’, that is, to make it your main concern and constant care. The Hebrew word for ‘keep’ meant ‘to guard’. Watch over your heart (the soul, or inward man) as a precious treasure, of which thieves are ever ready to rob you. Guard it as a garrison into which enemies will enter if you are not on the alert. Attend to it as a garden in which the Lord would refresh Himself (Song of Sol. 6:2), removing all weeds and keeping its flowers and spices fragrant. That is, be diligent in mortifying your lusts and in cultivating your graces. The devotions of your lips and the labours of your hands are unacceptable to the Lord if your heart is not right in His sight. What husband would appreciate the domestic attentions of his wife if he had good reasons to believe her affections were alienated from him? God takes note not only of the matter of our actions but the springs from which they proceed, the motives actuating them, as also the manner in which they are done and their motive. If we become slack and careless in any of these respects, it shows that our love has cooled and that we have become weary of God.
God Weighs Our Spirits
The one with whom we have to do ‘is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed’ (1 Sam. 2:3) in the balances of righteousness and truth; whatever is ‘found wanting’ (Dan. 5:27) or is deficient is rejected by Him. ‘All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits’ (Prov. 16:2), i.e., that which lies behind the actions, which colours as well as prompts them. Self-love may blind our judgment and make us partial in our own cause, but we cannot deceive the omniscient One. God brings to the test and standard of holiness not only our actions but the attitudes of our spirits which inspired them.
‘The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins’ (Psa. 7:9), that is, the inward principles from which our conduct proceeds. He scrutinizes our affections ad motives, whether we are sincere or not. The Lord God is ‘he that pondereth the heart’ (Prov. 24:12), observing all its motives: its most secret intentions are open to Him. He perceives whether your contributions to His cause are made cheerfully or grudgingly.
He knows whether your gifts to the poor are made in order to be seen of men and admired by them, or whether they issue from disinterested benevolence. He knows whether your expressions of goodwill and love toward your brethren are feigned or genuine
Since the Lord looks on and ponders the heart, should not we do so too? Since from the heart proceed the issues of life, should we not make it our chief concern and care? Out of man’s heart proceed all evils mentioned by our Lord in Mark 7:21-22. but is equally true that out of the heart proceed the fruit described in Galatians 5:22-23. ‘A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things’ (Matt. 12:35), but the good man will not do so unless he diligently resists his inward corruptions and tends and nourishes hi graces.
If we are to walk worthily of the Lord ‘unto all pleasing’, we must frequently ‘search and try our ways’ (Lam. 3:40), take our spiritual pulse, and ascertain whether all is well within. We must heed that injunction ‘Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still’ (Psa. 4:4) that we may ascertain our spiritual condition. We must daily attend to that precept ‘Little children, keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21) lest anything is allowed that place in our affections which belongs alone to Christ. We must constantly examine our motives and challenge our aims and intentions, for they count most with God. We must ‘cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit’ (2 Cor. 7:1).