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“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

I love football season. One of the things I find fascinating is watching the coaches on the sidelines calling plays. Some of them carry a clip board, others carry a spreadsheet that looks like it’s describing how to take a space shuttle to the moon, and some sit in a booth far above the turf so they can see the whole field more clearly. However they do it, the coach calls a play in, and the players run it on the field. That got me thinking. Who or what is calling the plays in our life? If our life is the field, what determines how we live? The wisdom tradition has an answer to that question. In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon wrote, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Solomon’s claim cannot be overstated. He suggests everything we do on the outside, flows from the inside. Jesus echoes this teaching when he tells his disciples, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Our heart is our command central. Our heart is calling the plays. Our heart is guiding our speech, our actions, our reactions, our lives. If we have a healthy heart, we’ll have a healthy life; however, if we have a sick heart, we’ll have a floundering life.

Psychologists have long studied how to help people make better choices and walk with increased joy. Unfortunately, many start with behavior modification. Behavior modification is a treatment approach which is focused on changing behavior. This method is based on the work of B.F. Skinner, a well-known psychologist who developed the operant conditioning theory – which suggests that behavior can be modified by consequences and through reinforcement. Solomon and Jesus would take it further. They would claim, “If you want to change your behavior, your heart must change – because everything is flowing from your heart.”

Anger. Manipulation. Bitterness. Impatience. They are all symptoms of an unhealthy heart. Think about that for a moment. What if we started to become better students of our heart? What if we started to pay better attention to what we’re thinking, feeling, and desiring? What if we started to see our actions and reactions, as a mirror of what’s going on in the inside of us? And, what if we started to take more seriously fighting for the health of our inner life – because the fight for our inner life is really a fight for our joy. Take some time today and think about the prominence of your heart. Watch this video – it paints a great picture of the importance of heart and soul care.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text 0=””]

By Ryan Paulson  

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