Keep Thy Heart

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Ladies, today I want to talk about a subject that will apply to most of us at some point, and that is the tender area of what some refer to as relationships between us and the opposite sex.

Just to put this up front, before I am accused of perhaps not being able to understand how you feel or that I am not in your shoes, I will disclose a bit of my testimony regarding this matter. Like many of you I continue to struggle in this area and by no means am perfect. No, not by any means. This is a continual battleground. To my shame I confess my past is littered with ungodly emotional attachments to more young men than I care to disclose. I was definitely what you would call “boy crazy.” Part of that was my exposure to much deceptive philosophy from a very young age, which I plan on addressing in this post. By the age of 14 I was thoroughly convinced that I could only be fulfilled if I had a boyfriend. Suffice it to say that a very hard lesson I learned from that search is that what you are looking for as an unsaved-but-professing-Christian teenage girl and what an unsaved-but-professing-Christian teenage boy is looking for are two very different things. There was no happiness at the end of that road, though you may have some “highs” along the journey (more on that later). I hope that by sharing this and by the topics discussed I can encourage some of you by some of the hard lessons I have had to learn in order to spare you of unnecessary sorrow and burdens, and to encourage you in the path of holiness and purity.

What’s Wrong with Following Your Heart?

If you haven’t heard this question addressed from this perspective before, what I’m going to say may seem totally foreign and contrary to what you have been taught. The sad truth is the world has successfully indoctrinated young girls (and many others too) into the teaching them that they need to follow their heart when deciding what to do. And it sounds pretty good – nice and warm and fuzzy. Everybody likes to hear it, because it means doing whatever they feel like doing. You just have to be in tune to how you feel, your affections and emotions, which isn’t hard, and then trust yourself (so they say).

But the truth is God warns us about doing that, saying,

“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool…” (Proverbs 28:26)

Now that doesn’t sound like anything we have grown up hearing from the world. Why would someone be a fool for trusting their own heart to guide them? How can it be foolish to follow your heart?

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Your heart is wicked. If you trust your wicked heart that is deceitful above ALL THINGS, that will LIE to you and deceive you, you are going to get in a heap of trouble. It is not to be trusted. It is an open pit of iniquity. That is why it is foolish to listen to your emotions or let them steer you in any way. In fact, you don’t even know how much evil is in your heart. It is the seat of all sinful desires and pernicious thoughts. Every wrong thought, every evil word, every damnable deed comes out of that heart. And the best way to destroy yourself is to take heed to it. This all may sound shocking to you. Maybe you have been taught that man is inherently good. That is a lie from the devil himself. We have all been lied to by the world, and your heart will lie to you too more than anything or anyone else.

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

I’m having a hard time finding a reason in that list that I should listen to the heart. It looks to me like there is a lot of bad stuff within that comes out of it.

When you are following your heart, God is not the one leading you. You become your own god rather than a disciple of Christ. But we Christians are supposed to walk by the Word of God aren’t we? which is sometimes hard to do when your emotions are pulling you in the other directions. Ultimately, you have to make a decision and be accountable to God for it. And you will have to face the consequences of being deceived. How many people – especially women – end up in messes like conceiving out of wedlock or married to someone they end up hating? I think women are especially prone to this doctrine of devils because they are naturally more emotional creatures who are very intuitive to feelings. But there is a stern warning to letting them lead us.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

And if you are saved, I have some bad news for you: you still have that evil, wicked, deceitful heart in you trying to tell you what to do! So you are not exempt. The good news is we have the Holy Spirit and a new heart from the Lord. But you will have to study scripture to know which heart is doing the talking.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7,8)

Payday someday, and that someday will always come sooner than you thought and take more than you bargained for. Did you catch how we are commanded not to be deceived? You can’t obey that verse and follow your deceitful heart at the same time, now can you?

This “follow your heart” nonsense is an absolutely satanic doctrine that is leading thousands of people into sin, wrecked lives and finally at the end the gates of hell. You may think my words are too harsh. Well this is a serious matter and people need to take this seriously. They need a strong warning because there is a lot of strong delusion going on, sister. And it starts inside. Rather, hear the hard word now and see the truth and be SPARED than to come back years down the road shattered because you ruined your testimony doing what seemed best to you. But it’s a message most people don’t want to hear. They write me off as a hater. They don’t think bad things will happen to them and they go on in stubbornness. All they care about is doing what feels good. It’s because of deception! Wake up before it is too late!

Did you know it is a doctrine of Satan to do what you want to do? (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of thy law.) You are actually obeying the devil even though you are thinking you are the one in control. No, sister, when you follow your heart, Satan has you in his grip. He is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44). The father of all of those wicked, deceitful thoughts inside your heart is the devil. They don’t come from God. It’s a black and white issue. You’re either following God or the god of this world.

We are very emotional creatures by nature. God made us to be tender and desire the affections of men. But if we throw those desires around to just anyone as we deem good, it is all too easy to become caught up in the wrong relationships. We need to depend on the Lord to help us control those emotions rather than letting them control us. Ask Him for the grace to resist being swayed by every whim; to channel your desires towards good and right masculine attention (your father, if you are unmarried).

I recognize that there is a hormonal aspect to some of our emotions as women. God also made those mysterious chemicals in our brains to help our bodies do the things we need to do at certain times for the cycle of life. Before you despise them, remember how without them, the human race couldn’t continue. They are no doubt a blessing in that sense. But we can feel the weight of their curse when we suddenly want to blow up at our family members because they left their shoes out of place or something else so trivial. They can cause a lot of havoc without a good deal of self-control to keep them in check, especially for those who are more prone to “mood swings.” Just as it is important for us not to let those soaring estrogen levels allow us to hurt our relationships with our loved ones at certain times, it is important to keep them from influencing our thoughts and decisions when it comes to relationships with men to whom we are not married. At the end of the day you can’t blame it on your hormone-fused emotions.

There is something to say for hormonal imbalance, which affects most western women due to industrial lifestyle and diet – things that God never intended to be a part of our everyday lives. I think things can be a whole lot easier if we don’t have a chemical cocktail in the mix which is making emotions even more extreme. Many chemicals are known to affect the endocrine system. These days many women have excessive estrogen levels that are not normal, and can lead to an inclination towards erratic behaviour – making it much harder to be self-controlled. We don’t need that. Life is hard enough dealing with natural fluctuations in hormones, let alone those that are induced by environmental toxins and stimulants. So it’s definitely important to do all you can to physically keep your internal functions at their best by ridding yourself of things that contribute to hormonal imbalances. More on that in another post.

No matter how big our emotions may seem to us in a situation (and they can seem very powerful), it is still ultimately your choice. They don’t “make” you do anything – you LET your heart affect your decision. If you find your emotions are like an uncontrollable wild horse in your life, you’ve got some work to do with the help of the Holy Spirit to grow in the Lord. You will find you will be much better off if you can think and act outside of their influence. So many unnecessary arguments and strivings can be avoided at home. So many foolish mistakes and hurtful situations with men can be eliminated. I’m not saying you won’t have those feelings, or that it is an easy road. I’m simply saying you can have the character and discipline to be able to master them and base your decisions on God’s Holy Word.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

It is so, so much better to walk by the counsel of the Lord. He knows best for us, doesn’t He? His ways are higher than our ways, as are His thoughts. His wisdom is perfect and full of all truth; in Him is no deceit. To commit your whole heart to trusting Him, to keep it diligently every day from wayward passions or its own fallible knowledge, to acknowledge Him in all your ways (be it thoughts, words or deeds) is to have joyful fellowship with Him and His guidance over your life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the blessings of wisdom on a Christian’s life are enumerated excessively in the Proverbs. All thy ways means every aspect of your life should be subjected unto the Lord. Everything should be surrendered to Him. In the Christian life one thing we are always learning is surrendering and submission to the will of God. The lesson at the end is always the same, which is to trust in Him.

So, that said, let’s talk about how you can keep your heart and protect it so it doesn’t end up deceiving you.

Thinking about boys consumes the minds and hearts of many a young lady. But is this what God wants us to do?

How are we, as daughters, to relate to men we are not married to?

First, we must have a very clear understanding that they are not ours.

To lust for something that does not belong to you is to be covetous. No lustful passions should be entertained or allowed to fester towards such a man, not only because you are breaking the commandment of God and risking the deception of a clouded judgment, but because you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position. All kinds of trouble happens when people let themselves tie love knots with someone who has fascination but no bond of matrimony keeping them committed.

Secondly, we must acknowledge that we are not theirs.

You belong to the Lord, first and foremost, and are not your own, for ye are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19). On this earth, you belong to one man. That man is your father. Until he willingly gives you to someone else, you are his. Your duty is to him, to seek his affection and further his interest – not your own. Your affections are not yours to throw around to anyone you deem fit. That is not how God intended us ladies to live.

Thirdly, we must realize that we may belong to someone else in the future.

Suppose that man you feel for decides to “move on” when you have strong affections to him? Your heart will be wounded deeply because you have given a part of it to someone who does not value it as his own. When this happens with other men and you continue to lose more of your heart and be wounded again and again, what are you saving for your husband? It is not wise. It is very much similar to adultery. You are to behave towards other men just as you would if you were already married to someone else! Would your future husband approve of those casual flirtations? Would you blush if you knew he could hear your conversation? I recognize most people do not think this way about relationships. They think as long as you aren’t married you can “have a little harmless fun” even as a Christian. I don’t believe that, and I don’t believe God wants that either, because I do not think this kind of “fun” is harmless at all. It is playing with fire; it is walking into a trap. You are putting yourself in harm’s way and letting your emotions run away with you.

This is what Scripture says about how the virtuous woman behaves regarding her husband:

“She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)

Notice how it says all the days of her life, not just when she is married but even before then. From her youth she is preparing to bless him and do him good. Are you doing your husband evil in throwing your affections to someone else, the affections that should be his? Are you speaking in a manner that you would be ashamed of if he only knew of it? Do your husband good right now. If he isn’t your husband or your father, don’t form these emotional attachments. They will only hurt you both in the long run. If you can’t be faithful to him now, how can you expect to be faithful to him later? It is a training ground for your future service to him. Will he say this to you, as Boaz did to Ruth:

“And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” (Ruth 3:10,11)

Ruth was definitely not “boy crazy,” even though she had neither husband nor father at this time. And she was renowned for her virtue because of it. She was faithful to her obligations.

We don’t find any commendable examples of “recreational relationships” in the Bible, and for good reason. A man who is truly desiring to serve the Lord by finding a godly wife is not out to play games. You will not find yourself with a godly man who is likely to be a God-fearing husband by exchanging flirtations. There is generally no intent for marriage in these, and it is bypassing God’s design for getting a woman married.

Are friendships with boys a good idea?

Growing up, my friends were mostly boys through elementary and middle school. So I have some firsthand experience with this, as well as what I observed with my high school girlfriends and myself who engaged in these kind of relationships. And I know why we all engaged in those kind of friendships… because it was a way to get attention! It was a way to be with your crush and potentially have someone have a crush on you! To the adult onlookers it’s all innocent fun but the youth know what’s really going on.

“A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 22:3)

Don’t be surprised when heartbreak happens as a result of friendship with boys, ladies! Don’t be surprised when you find that boy suddenly has a deeper emotional attachment to you than what you bargained for! Don’t be surprised when ungodly behaviours take place! It is a simple law of biology. That’s why you shouldn’t go down that road to start with. Only punishment lies ahead.

Some say you should be friends with a boy before the relationship gets more serious to know if he is a good friend and/or potential future spouse. I find this verse above applies very fittingly to this issue. It is just a fact of life that boys and girls are attracted to each other in a totally different way than girls with girls or boys with boys. There is chemistry and hormones at work behind the scenes. Forming friendships with boys is a step to intimacy, and it is all too easy for one party or the other to harbor secret admiration for the other. Such things should not be played with. So much drama goes on when it comes out that Harry likes Sally but Sally just wants to stay friends, and then Harry gets upset and now they both aren’t getting along how they used to and things are now awkward. Or it could be that Sally was interested in Harry the whole time, and now that he has expressed his interest for her, the two have decided they want to be together or end up in sin and in doing so have acted outside of their authorities.

Brother and sister relationships are wonderful and pure, and a gift from God. So there can be very close friendships between boys and girls, but when the two are from different families, there is a wide open door for inordinate affection. It is just not God’s design for the method of bringing two together as one. Men and women always had their separate spheres in the Bible (outside of the family) for good reason. It minimizes the chance for any mischief to take place and it keeps their hearts pure and unspotted for that one special person.

“And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.” (Exodus 21:7)

Maids (young ladies) stayed with other maids. They didn’t intermingle with men in everyday life. Even Miriam, the sister of Moses, led the women of Israel separately in their own dance at the defeat of the Egyptian armies. You will find many instances in the Bible where women are mentioned in daily life as being with each other in groups. It was just understood that doing otherwise was improper for thousands of years.¬†When mixed schools came along it used to be a controversial subject. Suddenly we have turned our backs on it all and openly embraced throwing boys and girls together at youth groups, school, sending them off together to do their activities, so-called mission trips, you name it, all under the umbrella of “friendship.” No wonder why unwed mothers make up 1 in 3. No wonder we have an epidemic of young people who are ending up in sin.

That’s why things like youth group and dances and retreats where males and females are buddying around and hanging on each other are all unbiblical. They cause a stumblingblock and only lead to injury, broken hearts and trouble.

Some excuses refuted for palling around with boys

You say, I just want a boy friend to have someone to talk to and tell them about my problems. Or maybe, I just want a boy friend because they aren’t as dramatic as girls. They give me a different perspective on life. Talk to your brother! Talk to your father! You already have males in your life, you just don’t make use of them. I’m all for getting a different perspective from the masculine side, and there’s no doubt the drama reduction is an added bonus. So go on a picnic or a walk with the men of the house to get your male fix. Well, you say, it’s just not the same. No, it’s not the same, because you won’t be tempted to start wrapping your emotional tentacles around them like you would that other person! And that’s a good thing; it will keep you from temptation.

You say, they are my brothers in Christ, so I can be friends with them with godliness. Surely it is possible for us to laugh and share stories together like I can with my sisters in Christ without impurity. Well, there is a different dynamic between your biological/family brothers and your spiritual brothers in Christ. There is a proneness on both sides for what the other one has to offer them unlike with your family. So showing the same level of intimacy between you and your brothers or you and these other boys is not prudent because it is a very real gateway to problems. In fact the danger is more real between Christians than it is between just anyone, because there is more commonality and like-mindedness. As proof that there is a different dynamic, let me ask you a very pointed question. This may be a bit graphic, but I think the illustration makes a potent connection worth identifying that can help to resolve any doubts. Would you, as an unmarried girl, feel right being in the same bed with a boy who is not your brother, as friends, though he be a believer? Why not? Because it just isn’t proper. You are in a place where very real temptation could happen to act outside of God’s boundaries. So any godly girl would never dream of putting herself in that position. But a sister does not feel a sense of shame or guilty conscience for being in the same bed as her physical brother, does she? It is a normal, natural part of family life to be physically close to your siblings, even those of the opposite sex. Deep down you know it is not the same. It’s not a big deal to be in there with your brother or even a girl who is not your familial sister, if you are friends. Nobody would fault you for doing that, if there are no carnal intentions such as incest or sodomy. The same reasons for not doing so with a Christian man who is not your husband still apply to your casual daily life relations to them. Things that are acceptable between you and your brother are just not right between you and a man to whom you are not married, though he be your brother in Christ. There is a definite boundary that is drawn in a different place.

You wouldn’t want your future husband laughing with and treating other girls the same way he does his own sisters, would you? Why not? Because you would think he is behaving loosely and not saving that for you alone. It doesn’t bother you when he playfully teases his sister or talks to her about things that are deeply important to him. But you know something is different when that girl is not his biological sister, even if she is a godly girl. It wouldn’t set well with you. You would think it improper for an older, married man to talk excessively with the older women of the church or act buddy-buddy with them, perhaps teasing them or being clingy. Well, they are his sisters in Christ, aren’t they? Yes, you might say, but that’s different. He is married. What difference does that make? Since when does marital status affect the standard of purity between the brethren? That should help you to see why it isn’t fitting to have that same intimacy between the unmarried of opposite sexes even in the Church.

The godly Bunyan knew this casual, friendly mixing was ill-advised and shared his thoughts on friendships with other women and how he guarded his heart around them after he got saved, though they be sisters in Christ (not because he disliked them, but because he knew to walk circumspectly):

“And in this I admire the wisdom of God, that he made me shy of women from my first conversion until now. Those know, and can also bear me witness, with whom I have been most intimately concerned, that it is a rare thing to see me carry it pleasant towards a woman; the common salutation of a woman I abhor, it is odious to me in whomsoever I see it. Their company alone, I cannot away with. I seldom so much as touch a woman’s hand, for I think these things are not so becoming me. When I have seen good men salute those women that they have visited, or that have visited them, I have at times made my objection against it, and when they have answered, that it was but a piece of civility, I have told them, it is not a comely sight; some indeed have urged the holy kiss; but then I have asked why they made baulks, why they did salute the most handsome, and let the ill-favoured go; thus, how laudable soever such things have been in the eyes of others, they have been unseemly in my sight.” – Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

In today’s society we may think that’s extreme and antisocial. But being shy of the opposite sex who are not your physical brothers is a wise way to guard your heart. To do otherwise savours of vulgarity.

How do you handle unwelcome advances?

If you find you as a woman are receiving an undue amount of attention, you may want to check yourself. It could be you are showing too much. If it isn’t for sale, don’t advertise it. Take a good look at your dress, your words, your bearing and behaviour. Is there anything that could be causing temptation or sending the wrong signals?

But there are still times when even the most discreet women find themselves being the target of someone’s advances, not because of an immodest dress or attitude, but because that man is truly interested in you for whatever reason. If you find yourself in a situation, take warning. The following is not a casual observation, but an insightful comparison (wonderful meaning above man’s capacity):

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” (Proverbs 30:18-19)

What do all three of these have in common? Unpredictability. You can never tell what what direction they will go in next. They are all controlled with an unseen intent that cannot be foreseen. He may try to manipulate your emotions with flattering words or kindness. This can cause the undisciplined woman who has a wavering heart to get tangled up in attachments. Or he may be very subtle with his advances, playing it cool as though he is just another casual friend. The young woman who is unassuming may have difficulty spotting this as an advance. A man who may seem noble in his intentions at first may suddenly try to entice, as was the case of Amnon with Tamar. In such a case we find this virtuous woman actually speaking out against his lustful advances. On the other hand, a man may actually have no serious intentions and is only looking for amusement, which can be easily mistaken for affection. The takeaway is don’t get prideful and assume you know everything that is going on no matter what. Be very cautious at all times. Avoidance, if possible, is usually a wise course of action.

This is why it is very important to have your father as your head and your go-between with young men and their families, rather than letting them have direct access to you. But if you are ever in a situation by some rare chance where you are getting attention from any man, your demeanor will be especially important. If you are as polite and cheerful and conversational as you normally would be with another sister or older friend, that can be very easily mistaken for mutual interest. Even if such interest exists, it should be dealt with between you and the Lord certainly not betrayed to that person. Be reserved. Be shy. Don’t put yourself out there or be giggly by any means. To do so is very easy to be mistaken for flirtation and just seems vulgar. There is no good reason to try to be cleaver and witty; it only comes across as brazen and like you are trying to impress. If he looks you in the eye, drop your gaze or look away. Locking eyes is a bridge to tying those love-knots. Remember that conversation that is light and impersonal is much preferred to heavier or more deep subjects. You don’t have to be rude and absolutely should not be, but keep your words few. The more you talk the more chance there is for sin to happen (Proverbs 10:9). This also ties in to being reserved. The sense of spiritual intimacy can draw the cords tighter than even physical interaction. Save those meaningful talks for your family or sisters in Christ.

What about the concern that appearing submissive and bashful may arouse the masculine nature of protection and further feed the flames of passion? That is where the importance of not being overly-sweet comes in. In fact, it might be entirely the best course of action to be a little frosty. That might seem hard, but it is important not to send mixed messages and to make it clear up front, without being feministic, that you are not interested. You might be afraid of coming across as impolite, but it is better to do that than to end up in a big mess down the road because he took your manners to mean more than they did. You are actually doing the kind thing in being up front about it. Obviously you don’t want to call him out verbally on only suspicions (reasonable or otherwise) of his affection with no definite evidence of them, which is not being shamefaced or reserved; everything hinges more on the unspoken mannerisms than on what you say. Much of this responsibility actually lies with your father, to assess the man and talk about such things, so it is not all on you to make sure he knows he is not welcome. Your duty is ultimately to be pure in your conversation and not give any wrong impressions.

How do you overcome obsessing about boys?

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Imaginations and thoughts can proceed from the heart. Every thought must be instantly taken captive. Every one! The imaginations and high things that are against the knowledge of God must be cast down. They are not to be pondered, they are not to be entertained, they are not to be tolerated. They are to be kicked out the door so they don’t take root. They are to be instantly and utterly rejected, with no pity whatsoever.

The minute you try to free your mind from these kinds of thoughts, you may find yourself instantly being assaulted by a barrage of reasons for thinking about that person. This is your heart trying to deceive you, trying to make sure you don’t escape. Maybe you even spend time thinking about how you shouldn’t be desirous of that man, identifying a host of incompatibilities, things you don’t like about him, etc. I’m all for acknowledging up front why it is wrong to lust over that person and confess that, but sometimes it can become an excuse to think about that person by fixating on such things overmuch. I think it leads to mental tape-looping. I talked about the very real problem of addiction to boys in another post on being chaste in heart. Just confess, repent, and from that point onward (with the help of the Lord) do battle.

This is where prayer is so important. Whenever you find yourself drifting off into areas you shouldn’t in your thoughts, set yourself against it by counteracting those thoughts. Denounce those thoughts. Reject and repent of all of these wicked thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of the Most High. Ask the Lord to help you break free. Ask Him to keep you from covetous sins and to be content with such things as ye have. Thank Him for the man you have in your life to be your head and resolve yourself to be a devoted and faithful daughter to him. You can mentally or verbally recite KJV Scriptures you have been memorizing. This can be a powerful one. Don’t just think about getting the words correct (though that is important) because you need to also be meditating on the meaning. You may be surprised when you suddenly have understanding of something that was previously hidden from you. The Lord is faithful, isn’t He? He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, is He not? Another way to redirect your thoughts is to sing unto the Lord. I highly recommend singing the Psalms. Praising the Lord will do wonderful things for your attitude. It will help you to remember all of the goodness that God has showed you. There is truth in the saying “count your blessings.” When you think about how God has been so merciful and gracious to you, showing you compassion and redeeming your soul, having given you abundantly all things that pertain unto life and godliness, how can one be lustful of another man? I’ve said it before, but when you are loving the Lord with all of your heart you will be surprised at how those desires for evil things or things that are outside of God’s will just melt away.

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