The Great Reservoir
By Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).
Now, you who love the Lord, let me take you to the reservoir of your heart, and let me urge upon you the great necessity of keeping the heart right, if you would have the stream of your life happy for yourselves and beneficial to others.
Keep Your Heart Full
First, learn the necessity of keeping the heart full; and let the necessity make you ask these questions: “But how can I keep my heart full? How can my emotions be strong? How can I keep my desires burning and my zeal inflamed?”
Christian, there is one text which will explain all this. “All my springs are in Thee,” said David (Psa. 87:7). If you have all your springs in God, your heart will be full enough. If you go to the foot of Calvary, there will your heart be bathed in love and gratitude. If you frequent the vale of retirement (seclusion), and there talk with your God, it is there that your heart shall be full of calm resolve. If you go out with your Master to the hill of Olivet, and with Him look down upon a wicked Jerusalem, and weep over it with Him, then will your heart be full of love for never-dying souls.
If you continually draw your impulse, your life, the whole of your being from the Holy Spirit, without whom you can do nothing; and if you live in close communion with Christ, there will be no fear of your having a dry heart. He who lives without prayer; he who lives with little prayer; he who seldom reads the Word; he who seldom looks up to heaven for a fresh influence from on high – he will be the man whose heart will become dry and barren. But he who calls in secret on his God; he who spends much time in holy retirement (seclusion); he who delights to meditate on the words of the Most High; he whose soul is given up to Christ; he who delights in His fullness, rejoices in His all-sufficiency, prays for His Second Coming, and delights in the thought of His glorious advent – such a man, I say, must have an overflowing heart. And as his heart is, such will his life be – it will be a full life.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence,” and entreat the Holy Spirit to keep it full; for, otherwise, the issues of your life will be feeble, shallow, and superficial.
Keep Your Heart Pure
Ah! Christian keep your heart pure. You ask, “How can I do this?” Well, there was of old a stream of Marah, to which the thirsty pilgrims in the desert came to drink; and when they came to taste of it, it was so brackish that though their tongues were like torches, and the roofs of their mouths were parched with heat, yet they could not drink of that bitter water. Do you remember the remedy which Moses prescribed? It is the remedy which we prescribe to you. He took a certain tree, and he cast it into the waters, and they became sweet and clear (Ex. 15:25).
Your heart is by nature like Marah’s water, bitter and impure. There is a certain tree, you know its name, that tree on which the Savior hung, the Cross. Take that tree, put it into your heart, and though it were even more impure than it is, that sweet Cross, applied by the Holy Spirit, would soon transform it into its own nature, and make it pure. Christ Jesus in the heart is the sweet purification. He is made unto us sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30).
Elijah cast salt into the waters (2 Kgs. 2:21), but we must cast the blood of Jesus there. Once let us know and love Jesus, once let His Cross become the object of our adoration and the theme of our delight, the heart will beam its cleansing, and the life will become pure also. Oh! that we all did learn the sacred lesson of fixing the Cross in the heart! Christian! love your Savior more; cry to the Holy Spirit that you may have more affection for Jesus; and then, however gainful may be your sin, you will say with the poet,
“Now for the love I bear His name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His Cross.”
The Cross in the heart is the purifier of the soul; it purges and it cleanses the chambers of the mind. Christian! keep your heart pure, “for out of it are the issues of life.”
Keep Your Heart Peaceable
Now, keep your heart right. Do not let it smite you. The Holy Spirit says of David, “David’s heart smote him” (2 Sam. 24:10). The smiting of the heart is more painful to a good man than the rough blows of the fist. It is a blow that can be felt; it is iron that enters into the soul. Keep your heart in good temper.
Seek that the peace of God which passeth all understanding, may keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Bend your knee at night, and with a full confession of sin, express your faith in Christ. Rise in the morning and give your heart to God, and put the sweet angels of perfect love and holy faith therein, and you may go into the world, and were it full of lions and of tigers you would no more need to dread it than Daniel when he was cast into the lion’s den. Keep the heart peaceable and your life will be happy.
Keep your heart peaceable, that your life may be so; for out of the heart are the issues of life. How is this to be done? We reply again, we must ask the Holy Spirit to pacify the heart. No voice but that which on Galilee lake said to the storm “Be still,” can ever lay the troubled waters of a stormy heart. No strength but Omnipotence can still the tempest of human nature. Cry out mightily unto Him. He still sleeps in the vessel with His church. Ask Him to awake, lest your piety should perish in the waters of contention. Cry unto Him that He may give your heart peace and happiness. Then shall your life be peaceful; spend you it where you may, in trouble or in joy.
An Undivided Heart
Now, a man’s heart has only enough life in it to pursue one object fully. You must not give half your love to Christ, and the other half to the world. No man can serve God and mammon because there is not enough life in the heart to serve the two. Alas! many people try this, and they fail both ways. I never saw anybody try to walk on both sides of the street but a drunken man – he tried it, and it was very awkward work indeed. But I have seen many people in a moral point of view try to walk on both sides of the street, and I thought there was some kind of intoxication in them, or else they would have given it up as a very foolish thing.
Now, if I thought this world and the pleasures thereof worth my seeking, I would just seek them and go after them, and I would not pretend to be religious; but if Christ be Christ, and if God be God, let us give our whole hearts to Him, and not go shares with the world. Your Master gave Himself wholly for you; give yourself unreservedly to Him. Keep not back part of the price. Make a full surrender of every motion of your heart; labor to have but one object, and one aim.
And for this purpose give God the keeping of your heart. Cry out for more of the divine influences of the Holy Spirit, that so when your soul is preserved and protected by Him, it may be directed into one channel, and one only, that your life may run deep and pure, and clear and peaceful; its only banks being God’s will, its only channel the love of Christ and a desire to please Him.
Overflowing Life and Love
Well, Christian, this should teach you to keep your heart full of rich things. Never, never neglect the Word of God – that will make your heart rich with precept, rich with understanding – and then your conversation, when it flows from your mouth, will be like your heart, rich, unctuous, and savory. Make your heart full of rich, generous love, and then the stream that flows from your hand will be just as rich and generous as your heart.
Above all, get Jesus to live in your heart, and then out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water, more rich, more satisfying than the water of the well of Sychar of which Jacob drank. Oh! go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry unto the Holy Spirit to make your heart rich unto salvation. So shall your life and conversation be a boon to your fellows; and when they see you, your face shall be as the angel of God.
– Adapted from a sermon.