I first saw this painting on a poster I bought my first year of teaching. I loved the painting, and I especially loved the Bible verse printed on the poster. I always hung it in my classroom no matter where we moved. The verse is from Proverbs 4:23.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
The word “wellspring” really doubles down on its meaning as a source of life. The word well, something we draw water from, comes from Old English, meaning “to bubble and roll.” Spring, also from Old English, means “to come out or up with speed and force.”
So the picture is of the heart as a source of life that bubbles-up with a forceful or continual supply. Is this verse talking about our physical hearts, whose beats send blood around our bodies and the physical life we have because of that?
No, it’s talking about our spiritual heart—the center of our being—our innermost thoughts and desires. And life is not the life that will end in death, but eternal life.
The Lord is most concerned about that heart, because it is the heart that the Holy Spirit must change for us to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life. He changes it from a heart of stone to one of flesh so our inner most thoughts and desires change course and spring up with love for God.
But, wait, there’s more. Notice that the verse in Proverbs is a command, “Guard your heart….” We don’t just guard something important once and then forget it. Did Smaug in The Hobbit stop guarding his treasure? No, he slept right on top of it, and it was just gold and jewels!
How much more should we keep on guarding the priceless treasure of a heart that has been bought with the precious blood of Christ and now belongs to God?
In the Sermon on the Mount, where He tells us how to live as children of God, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt.:19-21.
Paul in Colossians 3:1 says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”
In Fragonard’s painting the young girl is reading a book, which can be a help to guarding her heart or not, depending, of course, on what she chooses to read or “put into her heart.”
We all make many choices each day as to what we “put into our hearts.” And today there are more ways than ever to do that— a wide variety of electronic devices to keep up with numerous social media sites, to play games, to read books, and to watch movies and TV.
How do you decide what goes into your heart? How do you guard your heart so that it is a heart that can continually bubble up in a life that honors and serves God and overflows with love for Him and others?
The place to start is spending time daily reading the Bible. Psalm 1 compares a person who spends time reading and meditating on God’s word to, “a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”
We also need to make wise choices about all the other things we read and view each day. In the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13) Jesus warns against letting the cares and wealth of the world choke out our faith, as weeds can choke up an untended spring or well, so it is no longer a wellspring of life.
In the comment section tell us how you and your family decide what books, websites, movies, and other media to spend time on.
Here’s one to start you off: World, a Christian news magazine has reviews in every issue of music, movies, and adult and children’s books that are very helpful. world.wng.org
I hope you’ll let me know in the comments whether this new format is helpful, and tell others how this blog can help adults and children enjoy and appreciate great art from a Christian perspective—as well as make some of their own!
Be sure to visit my website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at: www.kathy-oneill.com
Next Post: Activities for Digging Deeper (based on A Young Girl Reading)
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