1. The reason that this verse …
Proverbs 4:23 (New International Version, ©2010)
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
… is so vital, so utterly crucial to life is because
2. … it is so easy to follow our own religious ideas without thinking.
Matthew 15 (The Message)
1-2 After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?” 3-9But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they’re worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
10-11He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”
3. And when we follow our own ideas and traditions without thinking that’s, well, bad, real bad.
Matthew 16:26 (New International Version, ©2010)
26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?