The human heart is much like a container. Throughout life we accumulate experiences and emotions, some good and some not so good. The good times and relationships of life leave us with positive memories and pleasant feelings. They build trust in us, and bring us joy and positive expectations for the future.
The painful experiences of life can also leave marks on our souls. They often deposit in us an ugly residue of anger, bitterness and resentment. They can rob us of hope and happiness. They can distort our perspective of people and circumstances. They can lead us to bad decisions, bad thinking and dominating, destructive life habits.
Whatever is in your heart will ultimately control your life. Take a look at what God said about this:
Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. — Proverbs 4:23 (GW)
This verse is a sobering reminder that what we accumulate inside of us affects everything about us. That's why it's important to regular check and clean out the contents of our hearts. It's vital that we know what we've allowed to occupy space in our souls, and to actively address the things that are poisonous and painful.
How do we do this? Here are some key steps to take:
- Understand the negative consequences of allowing the wrong things to take up space in your heart.
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. — Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
- Ask God to help you identify the things that need to be removed from your heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. — Psalm 139:23, 24 (TLB)
- Ask God to cleanse your heart of everything that has contaminated you.
Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. — Psalm 51:10 (TLB)
- Ask God to heal any brokenness and pain in your heart.
He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds. — Psalm 147:3 (Msg)
- Choose to forgive anyone and everyone who has caused problems and pain in your life.
… Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32 (Msg)
- Develop filters for your heart and mind that keep the bad out and let only the good in.
… you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious– the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. — Philippians 4:8 (Msg)
The contents of your heart matters. What's there affects all your thoughts, choices, attitudes and actions. Don't let the wrong things accumulate inside of you. Decide to clean out the poison and pain from your heart, and ask God to help you keep your heart free and clean from everything that might contaminate it. It's one of the best decisions you'll ever make, and one of the most important prayers you'll ever pray!