A few days ago I was reading through Proverbs 4 – by the way you probably know that there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, one devotional practice that I have found helpful is to read the Proverb of the day. That is, on the 4th of the month read Proverbs 4, on the 5th, Proverbs 5, and so on – this time through Proverbs 4 I was struck by 23 – 27. I just checked, four years ago Proverbs 4:23 was a passage that commanded a lot of space in this blog. Today though, there is a different issue I wish to explore.
As I read and prayed through Proverbs 4:23 – 27 the hopelessness of the assignment overwhelmed me. I know myself well enough to know that my eyes will wander from the path, I often turn to the right or left, and sometimes I hesitate or do not turn my foot from evil.
The idea that this is what it means to watch over my heart leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness. I know that no matter how determined, disciplined, focused I may be for the next few minutes, hours, or days, at some point I will fail. It is pretty much guaranteed, history tends to repeat, so does my sin. I identify with the words of Paul in Romans 7:24, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
Paul’s hopeless cry and by extension mine is answered in Romans 7:25 – 8:17. It is Christ. His completed work in me. He is the deliverance and the watch over my heart. When I fail, He does not.
Triumph over Hopelessness
Our failure and His triumph over that failure is the essence and the excellent news of the gospel of grace. I forget. I tend to try to do this on my own. In that I am hopeless.