When I was young I remember hearing “Guard your heart.” And I imagined a huge fortress around my heart. Then as the years went by I built that fortress, brick by brick.
In the last few years, God’s been dismantling this fortress of solitude and asking me to be vulnerable. I’ve always loathed that word. Vulnerable. To me it screams weak and pitiful. A pathetic damsel in distress. But I’ve learned that vulnerability is about being who He created me to be without fear. But we will leave that for another day. Today it’s about the meaning of guarding your heart.
The verse in question is found in Proverbs 4:23. Here it is in the RSV version: “Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.”
That word keep (sometimes translated guard) refers to tending and keeping a vineyard or a garden. It’s about weeding, pruning, and upkeep.
This is important because our heart is like a spring from which everything flows. We need to keep our spring of life clean & free of contaminates, like bitterness, envy, fear, jealousy, unforgiveness & hate, because everything we believe & do starts in the heart. See the verse below.
“It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart. Then he added, ‘It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.” Mark 7:15, 20-22 NLT
Not sure about your heart condition? Two ways to check:
1. Check what’s coming out of your mouth. What you say is the overflow from your heart. (Luke 6:45). Are you being negative? Are you continually beating yourself up? Are you gossiping and bashing people? Are you crossing lines in your conversations with married folks or people in general? If so, take these things to the Lord and ask Him to share with you what the root is of that behavior.
2. Or you can simply ask God to check your heart and reveal anything to you that needs to be addressed or might cause problems for you down the road. Remember that He created us, and knows our hearts intimately. (Psalm 33:15, 44:21& Psalm 139) You can find David seeking the Lord about his heart condition throughout the Psalms, like in verses 19:12 & 26:2.
God loves you passionately! He desires you to be whole! “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 NLT Your wholeness matters more to Him than what you will accomplish with Him.
“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NLT
God is all about the heart. God anointed David king solely because of his heart. Not his height, nor his weight. Not because of how handsome he was, nor His birth order.
Just like David your heart is precious to Him. So much so, that He will Himself guard your heart with His peace.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts & minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
This word guard, unlike keep in Proverbs, refers to a military guard. In other words, God guards our heart with His peace like a military guard in prevention of a hostile invasion, so it and our mind can be at rest. His peace operates no matter the circumstances. This means we have no need for the brick fortresses we build for ourselves. We need only trust the Lord.
I know that’s easier said than done my friends, especially when our trust has been repeatedly violated or our heart is broken. But like everything else in life it’s a choice. You can choose to guard your broken heart yourself or you can allow the Lord to give you a new whole one. Choice is always yours.
Point to ponder while you wander…”The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 NLT