Linda and I were at the beach a couple of years ago, and a young college-age couple picked a spot to lay in the sun not far from us. (That’s them in the title pic). We both were mildly amused while watching them, as it was obvious they were a new couple and just getting to know each other. The girl pulled her towel out and spread it over the sand in a single motion. The boy pulled his towel out and repeatedly tried to lay it out on the sand. But he was trying to unfurl it against the wind. He just couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t just spread out across the sand…it kept blowing back at him. I elbowed Linda and we both smiled. If he just turned around and let the towel go with the wind, like his new girlfriend did, it would have spread out just fine. Finally, he set the towel on the sand and rolled it out, still struggling to push the ends that were blowing back against him.
I thought, “Boy is he dumb. Girl, get out of there while you can. He may be buff and tan, but he’s lacking in the smarts department.” And then I said something like that to Linda.
She answered, “Maybe he has a good heart.”
And I had to admit, “Maybe, and if so, that would make up for it. In fact, surpass it. A good heart is far more important for a good relationship than a genius IQ.”
Truth is, a good heart will make up for deficiencies in just about any arena. But nothing ever makes up for a bad heart.
And for that reason, when I teach on parenting, I always emphasize, “Focus on the heart. Bring every conflict, every situation, every matter back to the heart. Lead your child to develop a heart for God, and a heart that is sensitive to the concerns of other people.”
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV).
There are a couple of important takeaways from this.
The first– Your heart is supremely valuable! It matters more in regards to the course of your life than anything else. More than intelligence, experience, skill, or circumstance. The state of your heart matters more than the state of anything else in your life. That’s why Solomon said, “Above all else…”
Second– Your heart determines the course of your life. The things that you do, the relationships you pursue, the way you use your time and how you spend your money, all are the products of your heart. Jesus said that an evil heart produces evil things and a good heart produces good things. If you’ve been making a series of bad choices, check your heart.
Third– Your heart is under attack. Why else would Solomon tell us to guard it? Because just as there is a real God, there is a real devil. And he will do everything he can to divert our thinking and pervert our desires to turn away from the God who loves us. Our hearts need guarding. We are bombarded every day by messages in the media and peer pressure from those around us to go a different way than God’s way. The evil one knows that if he can infect our hearts, he can affect our lives.
That boy who couldn’t unfurl his towel on the beach…I wish him the best. And maybe he’s smarter than he appeared to be that day…maybe he was just nervous on his first date. But even if he’s not, that’s ok. There are no doubt a lot of people who are smarter than me, and we don’t have control over our innate IQ. But the heart? The heart matters a lot more. And according to both Solomon and Jesus, you have a lot to say about that.
Pray for and pursue a heart that is devoted to God and sensitive to other people.