Monday, July 29, 2013

Guard Your Heart

In Christian circles we've all heard the phrase Guard Your Heart. In fact, I've almost exclusively heard it used in reference to single girls/women. As in, Be careful that you don't get hurt. Well, sistah, that's impossible unless a girl completely shuts herself off from relationships. Even if she did manage to avoid all relationships, there will still be a different kind of "heart problem" because the hurt will come from the lack of relationship. The fact is, we were created to be in relationships (See Genesis 2:18). And any sane married person will tell you that relational hurts still happen after the vows are made.

So what in the world does it mean to Guard Your Heart?

First, let's look at Proverbs 4:23 in a couple of different Bible translations.

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life. NASB

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life. NLT 

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. NKJV 

Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts. The Message 

Watch. Keep. Guard. Preserve.
To keep secret. To be kept close.

The original Hebrew word is used here in the sense of a caretaker who watches over a vineyard. Picture how a caretaker keeps watch and defends. He would be diligent about carefully defending his vineyard from elements or pests that might harm it.

Okay, so based on these definitions, it's very possible that we may need to guard our hearts from someone, but not necessarily to avoid possible hurt. We should guard our hearts from anything or anyone that can mess up our relationship with God. So it's way bigger than just about a boy/girl relationship.

So what are we guarding our hearts from? I won't go into an exhaustive list here, but basically we should be careful about anything we let into our minds (what we see, hear, etc.) and the people we allow to get too close who may influence us to make wrong choices. Perhaps that children's song Be Careful Little Hands What You Do isn't so far off base. 

Why are we guarding our hearts? Proverbs 4:23 continues by saying...For from it flow the springs of life. Come again? Our thoughts and actions can shape the way we speak and live. Wrong choices can lead us down the wrong path. Springs of life sounds pretty nice in comparison to the bottom of the dry pit. One is refreshing and the other...not so much.

How do we guard our hearts? This whole chapter of Proverbs 4 is advice from a father to his son about being wise. If you keep reading beyond verse 23 it sort of all comes together (that's the beauty of reading this in context). It tell us what we should do and what will happen when we do it.

24 Avoid all perverse talk;
    stay away from corrupt speech.

25 Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
    keep your feet from following evil.

P.S. Don't stop reading here. The entire book of Proverbs is full of wisdom!

Ultimately, I believe that we should be like a shepherd over our own hearts. A shepherd leads. Likewise, we should lead our hearts and not let our hearts lead us. It's dangerous to allow our hearts to lead us into making decisions. Think about it. I'm positive that you have made at least one heart choice and lived to regret it. 

While I was researching this topic, I came across this great quote from a blog I recently started following. 

"Guarding my heart does mean 
allowing no one access to that 
most central place of my affections 
but God. It means keeping 
the first commandment first—and 
 loving Him with all my heart, soul, 
mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5)." 
~ Paula Hendricks 
You may read the entire blog post here:

 What do you think?


Kristi said...

Well said!! I just had a conversation with Julia about this. I used to think guarding the heart basically meant that it's my job to not get hurt when a guy rejects me. Because that's how it was used so often at Bryan. That's not God's truth. Thanks for sharing.

Kristi said...

Guarding your heart....i think it's interesting that that phrase can be different depending on who you are and where you are in your life. I've heard it used in married circles as well. Usually in reference to guarding your heart/relationship from outside influences/the opposite sex. Especially in this day and age of social media where people reconnect.... I also tend to guard my heart in reference to friendships. Not all friendships but the toxic/painful kind. Guarding as in still kind but very careful so as not to allow myself to get hurt again. Or at least an attempt at that.

Kristi said...

Thanks for the comment Nicole. Glad the post was helpful. I know that I also grew up with that assumption or that it was God's job to protect me from getting rejected by men. I didn't keep carrying that assumption with me, but after this topic came up in a singles forum, I decided to do a little research. Very glad I did!

Kristi said...

Now that is also a very good reason to guard your heart! Hadn't thought of it from that perspective. Thanks for sharing your comment!