“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Proverbs 4:23
“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart,” Proverbs 27:19
I recently typed the word “heart” into a New Testament word search. There are 149 verses that use the word heart in them. So I tried typing in a ‘heart’ search in the Psalms and Proverbs. 202 verses came up, just in those two books alone.
Most of these verses indicate that the heart is of central importance in our life. It is a repository of good or evil. I don’t want to get into some theoretical discussion of what exactly the Bible is referring to when it uses the word ‘heart.’ I know intuitively that no matter whatever it is, it is important enough for me to pay attention to. I have to guard my heart because everything I do flows from it.
Eventually, what is in our hearts comes out.
For the better or for the worse, as much as we try, many of the emotions, feelings, thoughts and words that come from within are beyond our control. Anger from someplace deep inside comes out, sometimes takes us by surprise. Those inward feelings have the potential to not only control us, but also destroy our own self-image and relationships with each other. Lust for wealth, sex or anything else we desire comes from someplace deep inside of us and can often consume us.
Man’s heart is not naturally turned toward the good, beautiful and wondrous parts of life. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Evil thoughts. Murder. Adultery. Slander. Not such a pretty picture, yet we see this brokenness everyday around us personally – and in the news, for sure. Unfortunately, the state of our heart is reflected in our actions. “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19). We will be found out.
Guarding our heart is not something we do once when we decide to follow Jesus. The Lord is after a complete redo of our heart that takes life-time attention as we yield to Him and His spirit pouring life into us each day. God’s desire for us is that we be filled with His spirit in our hearts and become more like Him each day. This is a high calling indeed. It is a long-term obedience in the same direction over your lifetime.
So how do we guard our hearts?
- Understand that God wants you to know you are loved unconditionally – just the way you are – and at the very same time, will give you the resources to become more like Jesus. This is a very high and holy calling.
- Learn that God’s ways are not our ways. In Isaiah 55:8 it says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
- Change your mind. The changing of the heart comes by changing your mind. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
- We learn something when we do it. Isaiah 50:10, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.”
- I think you will find that the natural response you feel when you fully understand, learn and obey is a pure joy in God’s goodness and for a heart that pours forth worship. John 4:23 says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
As you guard your heart, give yourself lots of grace and mercy in the process – just like the Lord bestows on you. It takes a lifetime of learning. God understands us, loves us, and relentlessly pursues us – more than we could ever imagine.