“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.Proverbs 4:23
As with most things in our lives, we never really learn until we have experienced certain things. I never really understood why guarding my heart was such a vital part of my growth, until a broken heart nearly caused me to turn my back on life. I am not just speaking about a romantic relationship, but life, in general, requires us to guard our hearts daily. There is a reason why we are instructed to do this, and the Lord showed me a fresh perspective on why guarding my heart is so important in my walk with Him.
Our hearts have unique identities.
We tend to think the heart is just the emotional parts of us, but what the wise man is really trying to say to us is that the heart dictates all of our behavior. In this scripture, the heart becomes a primary focus ‘above all else’. The scripture does not deal with the physicality of our hearts, but rather our immaterial self, the abstract parts of our human make-up, in essence, our soul. Our hearts is the seat of our personalities, the Bible says that “the things that come out of our mouth, come from the heart, for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”(Matthew 15:8). Our hearts fashion our thoughts, which we use to think, trust, plan, deceive, lust etc. Solomon goes further to say “Just as water reflects the face, the heart reflects a person”(Prov 27:19). Our hearts have unique identities and reflect our inward selves.
The functionality of the heart.
The book of Proverbs is saturated with instructions on how to live a wise and fruitful life, but in this scripture special attention is drawn to the heart. Placing the heart on top of our spiritual list of priorities. Before your career, before your boyfriend, before your loneliness, before your bills, before your dreams, ‘guard your heart’.
Even the Apostle Paul instructs us to ‘Sing with grace in your hearts to our Lord”(Col 3:16). Jesus said ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’(Matthew 15:19). The heart that is neglected and left vulnerable is an ideal candidate and foothold for the enemy to grab a hold of.
It matters to God that our hearts are transparent, pure and pleasing to Him. The Bible emphasizes this truth on two separate accounts 1st in 2 Samuel and the in the book of Psalms;
“To the pure, you show yourself pure, but to the wicked, you show yourself hostile”
(Psalm 18:26 ; 2 Samuel 22:27)
It becomes more evident why we should guard our hearts with fervency “It is only the pure in heart that will see God”(Matthew 5:8) God is not only interested in our physical lives conforming to His word, but our inner man needs to be in total agreement with it as well. This enhances our desire to serve Him and it is part of what makes the new covenants promises so beautiful. God’s word targets the inner man. He does not long for us to have mere religious encounters with Him, but He wants us to establish a relationship with Him. This happens once our hearts are exclusively His and is not subject to other corruptible influences.
How do I guard my Heart?
We are aware that there are ‘rulers, powers, and authorities of the dark world’(Ephesians 6:12). The Bible would not give such a direct instruction if there was not a threat. Harmless distraction, are still distractions. Sometimes the most ‘innocent’ of things catches our attention. Honestly, I have experienced this with watching series and the way the world ‘romanticizes love’. Eventually, I would fall in love with characters, daydream about ‘the one God has for me’ the way I saw it on Television, then get so annoyed when it doesn’t happen the way I envisioned it to.
Guarding your heart means that you need to make it a priority to watch over the things you know you are vulnerable to. The world has a way of making us numb to sin, especially the media, technology, and music. Constantly reflecting helps me, I ask myself ‘Tatum where are you at, where's your head and where is your heart’. I do this daily. I also make it a priority to memorize scripture, my favorite being;
“whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things”
Our minds must constantly submit to the influence of Christ, we have to constantly make the time and effort to ‘set our minds on higher things’. He needs to be the highest object of our affections and ambitions when this happens our hearts will remain strong.
What have you done this week to exercise guarding your heart?