FIRST-PERSON: The battle for your heart
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- Gary Haran was so committed to playing a video game called World of Warcraft (WOW) that he decided he had to quit in order to reclaim his life. So he started a website devoted to World of Warcraft addicts who needed a place to talk about their compulsive game playing. When his website went live, the first day there were about 20 posts. By the time he sold the website there were 20,000 daily posts from players who wanted to talk about their obsessive dedication to the video game. (1)
Video game addiction can have deadly consequences:
-- In 2009, a three-month-old South Korean child died from malnutrition when her parents spent their free time in an internet café raising a virtual child in an online game.
-- An American father's 10-month-old twin sons drowned in a bathtub while he went into another room to continue playing a video game.
Let me be clear: This is not an article about the dangers of any video game. It is an article about passion -- what we choose to commit ourselves to.
That truth cuts two ways. If we commit our hearts to something negative, the outcome can be hurtful, even deadly. But if we allow the passion of the heart to be directed toward God, then the outcome can be life-giving and life-saving.
Power of passion
Solomon summarized the power of the human heart in two lines: "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Let me cite a couple truths:
-- The what
The Hebrew verb for keep is an imperative form -- it is a command. Commands in Scripture are not optional.
Diligence translates a Hebrew word that describes a guard in a jail. It suggests that a guard does whatever is necessary to keep his prisoners from escaping. Reverse the image with regard to the heart: Instead of keeping something from escaping, do whatever is necessary to keep anything harmful from coming in.
Summary: We must take all precautions to protect and keep our hearts safe.
-- The why
We are to guard our heart ruthlessly, "for out of it spring the issues of life." Or, more literally, "for from [the heart] flow the springs of life" (NASB).
The passion of the human heart is so powerful that it impacts the kinds of lives we live -- the heart is where life starts. And, as we have seen, sometimes it is where life ends. It all depends on where our passion is directed.
It is the heart, Jesus says, that determines how we express ourselves in this life. The object of our passions will determine the display of our passions. The heart is that powerful.
Process of passion
Before we talk about protecting your heart -- the seat of your passion -- notice how you make deposits in the treasury of your heart over time. In Luke 6:45, Jesus says that "a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good." Treasure refers to a storehouse -- a place where one builds up a treasure over time. That's why consistent meditation on the Word of God and fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit are so important.
We must take Jesus' words seriously. Our lives ultimately will reveal the nature of what has been stored up in our hearts. All of us have had momentary, impulsive failures. But we must believe that from the heart spring forth the issues of life. If we are to avoid the sadness and shame of failure in our lives, we must learn to safeguard the source of our spiritual and emotional lives.
Protecting your passion
The media is full of "healthy heart" tips today that we should follow, but even more important are efforts we can make to safeguard the wellspring of our spiritual life, including:
1. Don't leave your first love, Jesus Christ. Meet with Christ daily, intimately and devotedly. And be in touch with Him moment by moment throughout every day.
2. Be on the alert. Recognize that Satan wants to steal your affection for God (1 Peter 5:8).
3. Love God with all your heart. Jesus said giving God our whole hearts is part of our highest priority (Matthew 22:37). A daily choice to give God all your heart will not allow room for diversions.
4. Do not lose heart. In times of trouble or distress, Satan will be there to see if you will lose heart. If you do, he will encourage you to pursue an ungodly path. "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9).
Remember: Your heart is the seat of your emotional and spiritual passion in life. Do not allow it to be devoted to anything less than its true object -- God.
(1) http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/video-game-addiction-no-fun (accessed 2-10-14)