Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 NIV
When we had a dog, it was important to give her a medication that guarded her heart against worms. Her health depended on it.
I was reminded of this when I read an article recently about teaching our children to fence in, or guard, their hearts.
As parents, we do our best to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and teach them which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. With diligent and consistent discipline, we fence in their behavior and in the process teach them to do the same thing. At least we hope so.
But behavior is one thing, heart attitude is another.
While we pray the training we give them and the example we set are automatically going to affect their heart attitudes, I wonder – we may have control over their behavior (to a point), but do we truly have control over their hearts?
Does not behavior result from heart attitude?
We may act a certain way to be accepted, please others, get what we want, but that behavior may not reflect our true heart attitude. Most of us care what others think of us, and we would be aghast if they knew the true condition of our heart – if they caught a glimpse of the ugliness we do our best to hide even from ourselves.
When I gave my heart to Jesus, I gave Him my love, my life, my loyalty, my obedience in exchange for His love in me (Galatians 5:22), His life in me (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:10), His strength in me to be true and submissive (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9–11).
But my heart is still mine to maintain. I will always have a choice to love Him, obey Him, submit to Him, follow Him.
That’s why it’s important that I guard my heart and keep it pure.
“Above all else,” Scripture tells us, “guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
How do we guard or, in the words of the article writer, fence in our heart?
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6–7: “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 and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
God’s peace will guard your heart if you (1) pray and leave things in God’s hands, and (2) thank Him even before you see an answer. Let go and let God do His thing.
Another way to guard your heart is to watch what you allow in. Garbage in, garbage out. Build and maintain a fence that will allow only the highest and best in. Again I quote Philippians: “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (4:8). Guard whatever your eyes see and your ears hear, for these are the pathways to the heart.
We’re also to keep our hearts pure. And we can’t do that alone.
Prayer is the key here. Only God can purify my heart and cleanse me on the inside.
And so I pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . Point out anything in me that offends you” (Psalm 139:23, 24). And again: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
How are you guarding your heart?
Be the fence around my heart, O God. Amen.
Read and meditate on Psalm 139:23–24
© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.