Ever have anyone tell you to "get a grip"? Usually they mean something like, "Hey, you are letting this thing get to you a little too much", or maybe "Wow! Don't go off the deep-end over this. It is not worth it!" They might even tell you to "take a chill pill" and mean for you to put your claws in, get out of your defensive mode, and actually return to earth a little. Some of the time we hold so tightly to what we'd be better off letting go of, huh? We get all "wound up" for the stuff which really won't count tomorrow! Then we neglect the very things which will!
Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people. (Proverbs 3:3-4 MSG)
Solomon is imparting some great insight for us, if we have ears to hear and a heart to respond! For most of us, we "lose our grip" because we don't keep Love and Loyalty close! Love and loyalty are two conditions of the heart, but also of the mind. They are a matter of choice - a matter of focus. You have probably heard me say on other occasions - our attitude determines our altitude. For those of you not familiar with this principle, the pilot of a plane soon learns the "attitude" of the nose determines the direction the plane travels (the altitude it maintains or attains). For each of us, the "attitude" of heart and mind are affected by how well we main perspective with Love and Loyalty!
Love is what we describe as "attachment" to someone or something. We "feel" loved when we feel there is some form of "attachment" we make with the other individual. They express some set of values which we either admire, or connect with. We feel drawn to the similar interests of the other. There is attachment. Love is also capable of producing tremendous desire. The eagerness to be with the one who produces this desire is almost overwhelming. Solomon's first advice is to keep love within our grip. In terms we might better understand, he is telling us to hold close to our first love! Now, if Jesus is not in this place in your life, you might not understand what I am going to say next, but stick with me. What we desire most is what we focus on with great intent. Look at where Solomon tells us to keep love and loyalty - around our necks and carved into the tender parts of our heart.
Why the neck? If you are medically-minded, this will come easy to you. The main work of our entire body begins in the brain! Everything which happens "below" the level of the head is a result of the connection maintained between the brain and the spinal column! Sever the connection and we realize paralysis. At various levels, an injury to the life-producing spinal column will result in various "deficiencies" in our ability to perform certain activities. Low enough and we will lose sensation to our legs, higher and we will lose the ability to maintain the breath of life! Preserving or protecting the neck is important - right? Solomon tells us to "tie" LOVE around our necks. Intense desire, longing, an eagerness to be "connected" - not to a physical person - but to Christ! To preserve all the right functioning of our lives - get the right connection! Lose the grip on the stuff which consumes our focus, but does nothing to protect our lives!
Why the heart? There are two organs or systems of the body we seem to focus on the most - simply because they matter so much to the "health" of the whole body. One is the brain - the other is the heart (circulatory system). When the heart is damaged in anyway, the ability of our body to "keep up" with the demands of the various tissues which comprise our whole body will be compromised. We tire more easily, there is less capacity for carrying nourishment to the cells, the oxygen we breathe just doesn't get to the cells as well to regenerate them, and so on. No wonder the doctors focus on getting our "circulatory system" in a better state of repair! After all, the heart is a muscle - let it go long enough and it gets flabby and out of shape! Let your "heart" go long enough - without focusing attention on the connection it is making with the one who holds its course in his hands and you will be very spiritually fatigued!
Solomon doesn't just tell us to keep love around our necks and carved into the heart - he reminds us of the importance of loyalty. Love gives us the connection - loyalty is what we would describe as maintaining the connection. Solomon reminds us to keep Christ close - then to focus on the work of his Holy Spirit in our lives to assist us in maintaining this connection. When there is "loyalty", we might say there is "fidelity". In other words - there is faithfulness. His focus is on getting a grip on the right perspective, then remaining faithful in our pursuit of this perspective. It is a reminder to pay attention to the "attitude" of the nose of our plane! Simply put...he doesn't want us to crash and burn!
Not sure what we are "gripping onto" so tightly, but if we hear a little voice, or a loud one for that matter, telling us to let go or to get a different grip, it may very well do us well to pause long enough to consider what we are holding onto so tightly! Will what we "hold onto" protect the "vitality" of our lives and ensure the ongoing "connection"? If not, then we have a grip which is really placing us squarely in the position of being INSIDE a vice. We are being squeezed until we are sure to either "cry uncle" or suffer damage which is unwelcomed and unnecessary. So, Love and Loyalty - protection for the fragile parts of our being - hope for the ongoing "health" of what we need to maintain solid footing in life. What's around your neck? What does your heart tell others about your life? If Love is bound around your neck, and Christ's principles are solidly written into your heart, they will see Christ! After all, this is the goal, is it not? Just sayin!