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 (Manna 3)
The Four Elements in Spiritual Nurture
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            “Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the spring of life.
Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
Take heed to the path of your feet, then all your ways will he sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
(Prov 4:23-27, RSV)

This extract is taken from the Proverbs of King Solomon, the sagacious monarch. Enshrined within it are the Four Elements In Spiritual Nurture;

1.       Purity of Thoughts

2.       Purity of Speech

3.       Purity of Sight

4.       Purity of Action

Spiritual Nurture is a process, through which a Christian attains greater heights of spirituality. It is important to a Christian. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, the Apostle Paul said, “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”, and in Philippians 2:12, he wrote; “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”.

1.  Purity Of Thoughts

The mind is the master of the entire body. It controls and coordinates the functions and actions of the various parts of the body. Our Lord Jesus observed that “the good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45). Small wonder then that spiritual nurture should begin with the mind.

But how can a man achieve mastery over his mind?

The Bible declares; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt: who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).

The answer seems obvious. If the heart is so deceitful and corrupt. simply replace it with a new one!


It is written in the Scriptures: “A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you, and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinance” (Eze 36:26-27).

It is the Spirit of God who can change your heart. your whole trend of thoughts and give you a whole new attitude. Such miraculous change is called the ‘renewal of the Holy Spirit’ (Tit 3:5).

Before Saul was anointed King of Israel, God, through the prophet Samuel said, “the Spirit of the Lord will come mightily upon you  . Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart... (1 Sam 10:6,9).

You too can experience this remarkable change within you. You can be imbued with the Spirit of God if you pray constantly. Submit yourself to the Spirit’s guidance. Conquer the lust of the flesh. Then you will enjoy the glories of a sanctified life and the promise of eternity hereafter (Rom 8:1-13; 2 Thess 2:13).

The Word of God is also helpful in achieving purity of thoughts. It is pure and perfect and it revives the soul (Ps 12:6; 18:30: 19:7,9). The ancient Psalmist said, “I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps 119:11).

Allow the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly and meditate upon it day and night (Col 3:16; Ps 1:2).

Finally, there should be a conscious effort on our part to control our thoughts, as Peter so aptly put it; “therefore gird up your minds, he sober, set your hope solely upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:13).

2. Purity Of Speech

While it is not disputed that we should he pure in our thoughts, equally we should be guarded in our speech. Admittedly, this is extremely difficult ‘for we all make many mistakes, and if anyone makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also’ (Jas 3:2). The tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boast of great things. Behold how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire. And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity, the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and set on fire the course of our life.

A warning from Jesus is pertinent here;

            “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Mt 12:36-37)

The Book of Revelation speaks of a hundred and forty-four thousand redeemed ones in whom ‘no lie was found in their mouth’ (Rev 14:15). On the other hand, those to be thrown into the Lake of Fire are liars who love and practise falsehood (Rev 21:8; 22:15).

It can never be over-emphasised that a Christian must be careful in his speech. One care­less word may cost us a life-time regret!

“How then can I control my tongue?”, one might ask. James confessed that every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind; but no human being can tame the tongue - a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (Jas 3:7-8).

It does not sound easy at all! Perhaps you might find the guidelines below helpful.

(a) Be of few words ‘Silence is golden’ is an old adage. It has survived and its truth remains unchanged generations after generations. The Bible reaffirms that ‘when words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who retains his lips is prudent’ (Prov 10:19). Elsewhere it is written; “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Prov 17:27-28).

Even King David expressed similar sentiments when he declared;

“I will guard my ways, that I might not sin with my tongue. I will bridle my mouth, so long as the wicked are in my presence” (Ps 39:1)

“Those who seek my life lay their snares, those who seek my hurt speak of my ruin, and meditate treachery all the day long, but I am like a deaf man. I do not hear, like a dumb man who opens his mouth.

Yea, I am like a man who does not hear and in whose mouth are no rebukes” (Ps 38:12-14)

Clearly, the first step to greater control of speech is to speak less.

(b) Refrain from speaking evil We mingle with others daily and often there is a need to communicate, to speak. But in order to be blameless in our speech. we should disdain vulgar and abusive language. The Scriptures say. “What man is there who desires life, and covet many days, that he may enjoy good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit” (Ps 34:12-13). To keep your tongue from evil is to eschew vulgarities, lies, gossips, carpings, levity and licentious talks. It also includes reviling or slandering (Eph 5:3-4; 4:29; Rom 1:30; 1 Cor 6:10).

 (c) Speak edifying words. Christians should be lavish with words of encouragement that are good for edification according to the occasion that they may impart grace to those who hear (Eph 4:29). Even our Lord spoke ‘gracious words to edify people (Lk 4:22). Words that are good for edification are words uttered in truthfulness and sincerity, words spoken with gentleness and kindness, words of gratitude and words of wisdom. (Eph 4:25, 5:4; Col 4:6; Prov 15:1-2; 31:6).

3. Purity Of Sight

Eyes are the windows of the mind through which the wonder and splendour of God’s creation become real to us. Through which also we absorb the wealth of knowledge accumulated in the writings of great people. Yet, the eyes can cause people to sin. We sin as a result of seeing things that are not supposed to be seen. That was why Jesus said, “If right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body he thrown into hell” (Mt 5:29). So it becomes imperative for us to keep our eyes undefiled as we tread the path of spirituality.

Purity of sight stems from keeping the eyes from gazing at evil. (cf Is 33:15) The Psalmist prays saying; “Turn my eyes from looking at vanity, and give me life in thy ways” (Ps 119:37).

What made Eve to take of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Was it not that her eyes saw that it was good for food?

And what about Achan?

What stirred him to hoard the things that should have been destroyed?

Was it not his eyes which has caused him to sin?

Achan confessed, “When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them” (Josh 7:21).

Job claimed; “I have made a covenant with my eyes, how then could I look upon a virgin?” (Job 31:1).

A wise step to follow!

A man likes to see things of beauty especially the beauty in woman. Often this is the cause of many a sin.

Jesus warned; “I say that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28).

The ever victorious King David met his match one day when he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (cf 2 Sam 11:2).

The Bible says; “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin” (2 Pet 2:14).


We should instead acquaint our eyes more with the Word of God, because the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes (Ps 19:8).

4. Purity Of Actions

While our feet can carry us on the road of righteousness, they can also lead us to destruction and death. The Bible unequivocally claims that ‘all men have turned aside, together they have gone wrong … their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know” (Rom 3:12; 15:17). As such, Christians ought to be wary where their feet are leading them to.

To keep our feet from evil is to leave the ways of the sinners. As is written in Proverbs 4:14-15, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it and do not go on it, turn away from it and pass on”.

It is unwise to patronise discotheques. night-clubs, casinos and other off-beat places of entertainment.

Solomon epitomizes the path of the righteous as the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. But the way of the wicked is like dark ness. They do not know over what they stumble. (Prov 4:18)

Peter the Apostle exhorts us saying, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps” (1 Pet 2:21). Christ has gone through sufferings and pains just for you: his feet has brought him to the synagogues, the homes of the disciples; on treacherous journeys, and mission to heal the sick (Mt 4:23; 8:14-15; 10:1-9).

As followers of Christ, follow the way that our Master has trod. We cannot go wrong if we do.

As we travel on the journey, have with us the word of God which is the lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119: 105).

He will lead us into the path of righteousness and the way of wisdom. When we walk our steps will not be hampered and if we run, we will not stumble (Prov 4:10-12).

Day by day, as we walk closer to God, he shall surely show us the way we should go for the Scriptures promise; “For a man’s way are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths” (Prov 5:21).

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