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“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

Something that I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks is perspective and the importance of having a positive outlook. One of the things that got my wheels turning on this subject has been the weather we’ve had this winter. About a week into January, we were experiencing sunny, warm temperatures in the mid to high 40’s; and we still didn’t have snow here in Otter Tail County. It has been an unseasonably warm winter. And I, personally, have really been enjoying it.

One of the things that struck me was how much complaining I was hearing about the lack of snow. Now, I enjoy snow as much as anyone else – maybe even a little bit more than some, since I didn’t get to experience it growing up in South Florida. Even so, I didn’t agree with the complaints that I was hearing, namely, that the world outdoors looked “brown and ugly” and that we needed snow in order for it to look beautiful.

Chock this up to perspective, but seriously, how anybody could think that this place is ugly – EVER . . . Well, I don’t understand it, and in my opinion, they need to open their eyes. Minnesota is gorgeous! Snow or no snow, I see beauty everywhere I look. I also find it quite interesting that I didn’t hear any complaints about the good roads, sunshine, and warm weather we were experiencing. It seemed as if these traits were simply taken for granted.

I must admit, I have very little patience when it comes to complaining. I don’t want to hear it. Frankly, I don’t see the point of it. It is a completely unproductive waste of words that only breathes negativity out into the atmosphere. Often times, I feel that people choose to complain simply because they enjoy the sound of their own voice. I think with many, it is merely a habit – a destructive habit – though they mean no harm. As believers, we must remember that there is power in our words – specifically, the power of life and death! (See Proverbs 18:21) We need to think before we speak, and choose our words wisely.

Jesus said, “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” (Matthew 15:18) Having the right perspective is key to keeping our tongue in check, because it is what’s in our heart that comes out of our mouth and pollutes us. What we think about, our overall outlook, permeates and affects every area of our life either positively or negatively. This is why Romans 12:2 exhorts us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Where the mind goes, the body will follow. Although this verse in Romans is speaking of the mind, and not specifically the heart, the two are often interconnected in matters of perspective. Also, in scripture, the heart and mind are often mentioned together, because they are so closely related. What is in our heart affects our mind and thought-life; and what we allow to enter our mind, affects our heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

So, how do we do this? How do we guard our heart? One of the keys to guarding the heart is guarding the mind. We need to be purposeful in our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy –  think about such things.” Another key is humble surrender to God. Like David, an ongoing prayer of ours should be, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51.10) We need to live out of a place of dependence on Holy Spirit. As we allow Him to move us, guide us, and change us, we begin to look more and more like our savior, Jesus.

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