By Daphne Delay
I recently heard a story that may help us. A young boy had caught a handful of crickets and put them in a wide-mouth jar. He placed inside the jar your typical supplies: grass, flies, berries, etc. Then he put the lid on the jar with several holes punched in it so the crickets could breathe. Immediately, they began jumping hysterically trying to get out of the jar only to hit the lid and bounce back down. This behavior went on for a couple of days and then suddenly stopped. The crickets became content with their jar, moving about inside it, eating and adapting to their new surroundings. But when the boy decided to take the lid off, the crickets didn't notice. Wanting to see what would happen, he left the lid off the jar – but the crickets never tried to escape. Before, they had tried to get out only to be beaten down. Now that they could leave, they contently stayed. Why? Because in the process of time, they had programmed themselves to believe their fate was sealed.
Unfortunately, many Christian are like these crickets.
Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." In other words, be careful what you believe. If you believe you are a failure, an outcast, or unworthy, you will believe your “jar" is your fate, when in reality it is nothing but a barrier to the truth. "Keep (or guard) your heart with all diligence, for OUT OF IT spring the issues of life." Whatever belief system you put in your heart is what will come out. And whatever comes out of your heart is the picture you believe. This can be a very unhealthy cycle. Others can tell you the truth and even point to the exit, but if you don't believe it, you will never attempt it – no matter how good it sounds. "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7b). When the crickets no longer believed there was an escape, they stopped trying to find one.
The Hebrew word for issues in Proverbs 4:23 is literally translated as boundaries or controlling factors. So the Psalmist is saying: "Keep (or guard) your heart with all diligence, for out it spring the (boundaries or controlling factors) of life." Maybe someone beat us down with their words or treated us with contempt or prejudice. We may have fought back at first, but over time, the fight got tiresome and little by little we adjusted our whole life to fit within the lie. Therefore, (often unknowingly) the words and actions of others, and then our own words and actions built an invisible prison.
Thankfully, there are two sides to every coin. When we learn the truth of who we are in Christ Jesus and the righteousness we have received through faith in Him, the lid is removed. Then as we guard our heart, allowing only the truth of God’s Word to reside there, out of the self-same heart good boundaries and controlling factors will spring up. The Apostle Paul said, “Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Sin caged us in. But righteousness, and our understanding of it, set us free. So guard your heart!
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Daphne Delay is the founder of Mirror Ministries in Seminole, Texas. She is the author of Facing the Mirror: Finding a Self to Live With. Daphne has written over 200 articles for subscribers to Mirror Ministries and other publications, and she blogs nuggets of spiritual growth encouragement every week. Daphne is the wife of a senior pastor and the mother of three. www.mirrorministries.org
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