Moses made it very clear to the parents and grandparents of his day that they are both responsible for telling the next generations of God’s greatness and faithfulness. But he began this exhortation with this warning: “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely”. I like the NASB translation best: “Keep your soul diligently” (Deut. 4:9).
Why is this important? Because if we fail to keep our souls healthy, we will not do a good job of guarding the truth either. That is the whole point of being a biblical grandparent. A grandparent is in a position to serve as a kind of ‘guardrail’ for their grandchildren to keep them from driving off the cliff. If I do not guard my own soul, I cannot be a useful guardrail.
So, what does it mean to guard my soul? Here are four things I believe are necessary for soul diligence:
- A Guarded HEART. The writer of Proverbs advises, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). My heart is essential because out of it flows those things that I treasure most in my life—what I deem truly important. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). My grandchildren will know what I treasure most—stuff, power, prestige, or Christ—and that will be the legacy I leave them.
- A Guarded MIND. I easily get uptight about some of the things I see my grandchildren viewing on their smartphones and iPads. But if were honest, I’m not always as attentive to what I let into my mind—like what I watch on TV. What garbage do I follow on social media that contributes to unhealthy thinking? How much of my thought life focuses on what is true, right, pure, praiseworthy, excellent and noble? How much is shaped by today’s cultural vulgarities and incivilities?
I have learned that guarding my mind demands intentionality about two things…
a. I must be intentional about growing in knowledge of what is true through daily immersion in the Word of God and prayer.
b. I must keep myself from rationalizing what is or is not appropriate. It’s easy to rationalize something not good as something “not that bad”. The truth is, what I feed my mind is important, not only for my mind health, but also for my legacy impact.
- A Guarded MOUTH. Paul reminds us to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of [our] mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs [emphasis mine], that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesian 4:29). Do you remember that ditty we used to say as kids? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me!”We know it’s a lie. Words matter—immensely matter.
Do the words your grandchildren hear from you speak blessing and life, or criticism and negativity. I’m not saying we look the other way when wrong thinking or actions surface. I’m saying be careful about the words we speak. The most important words I may need to say could be, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
- A Guarded LIFE. It’s true that my talk talks and my walk talks, but my walk talks louder than my talk talks. When I tell my grandchildren to treat others with kindness and respect, and then I trash talk those I don’t like or agree with, what do I imagine they think about how my talk matches my walk? If my life is molded and shaped by the Gospel of Christ, then transparency, integrity and blessing will impact both my walk-talk and talk-talk.
Here are a few suggested action steps to help you keep your soul healthy:
- Make Psalm 139:23-24 a daily prayer.
- Establish and keep a regular time for reading and studying God’s Word.
- Set guidelines for what you watch on TV, or how you use Facebook or other social media sites. Stop giving attention to all the negative prattle of Facebook, Twitter and other media platforms
- Read more profitable things like the Bible and other good books worth reading.