Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
The heart is the most vital organ of the human body; the body’s functionality is fully dependent on it. The importance of the heart to our bodies requires us to be watchful over what we feed it. A poor diet, being overweight, smoking and drinking are a few of the many habits which could lead to the long-term damage or fatality of the heart. We have in many cases seen or heard how these bad habits have led to the unexpected or early death of a person. More often, what makes these kinds of deaths more agonising is the fact that in many cases, these heart issues are usually left undetected as symptoms are not displayed. Even if symptoms are displayed, it is usually too late to reverse the problem leading to the sudden death of the individual.
Being watchful over what we consume physically is essentially guarding the health of our physical hearts, which in turn guards our lives.
In a similar manner, it is also crucial we guard our spiritual hearts in order to sustain healthy and fruitful lives. Proverbs 4:23 emphasises the level of priority that guarding our hearts must be given in our lives – we must guard our hearts above all else. The statement ‘above all else’ accentuates that guarding our hearts is far more important than other life changing wise instructions the author of Proverbs and the Bible in general have given to us.
Why is guarding our hearts more important than other things?
…for it determines the course of our lives. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
Guarding our hearts above all else is key as our lives depend on it. The function of the spiritual heart mirrors that of the physical heart. The spiritual heart is the central place where everything consumed is deposited, processed, and then distributed to the rest of our lives. The gateways or the windows to our spiritual hearts are our eyes and ears. We feed our spiritual hearts with what we see and hear. What is fed is then processed and will form what comes out of the heart. The heart is the source of our decisions, choices, thoughts, and words on a daily basis. If there is an issue with what it’s fed then there will definitely be an issue with the by-product.
That which flows into our hearts is what will, one way or another, flow out of our hearts.
‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.’ – Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
The ESV translation for Proverbs 4:23 states that the heart is the source from which the springs of life flow. By definition, a spring is a place where water naturally flows out from the ground. The source of a spring determines the combination of elements which make up the spring. If the source is poisoned, every drop of the spring will also be poisonous. So according to the ESV translation, the heart is the ground from which the springs of everything we say and do flows from. Therefore, if our hearts are poisoned or contaminated, the things we do, say, or the choices we make, will also be poisonous or contaminated.
One of the dangers of having an unguarded heart is the fact that in most cases, contamination or poisoning of the spiritual heart is left undetected as symptoms are not displayed or they are displayed too late resulting in life wrecking consequences. Guarding our physical hearts guards our physical health but guarding our spiritual hearts guards both our physical and spiritual health.
The purpose of a guard is to protect; it’s a proactive measure.
When we don’t guard our hearts, we are without protection and make ourselves vulnerable to the enemy. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This means our vulnerability causes attacks, hurts, and damages to our lives causing us to take the reactive measure of building a wall in and around our hearts. When a guard protects, a wall defends. It is not the will of God for our lives to be lived with a defensive heart, but rather with a guarded heart. It is the will and desire of the enemy that we build a wall in and around our hearts keeping us from sharing life and love with those whom we have been called to do so with.
How do we guard our hearts?
- The Word of God. The Word is life and the path of life. It is full of wisdom and guidance on how to shield our hearts and lead fruitful lives as a result. The Word is the perfect and most effective guard to our hearts as it rejects what is toxic and unbeneficial; yet embraces everything that’s from God. However, this guard is only as effective as our use and application of it.
- Applying wisdom and discernment in the company we keep. We must be prayerful and Spirit led with our choice of friends, the people we surround ourselves with, and the people we give our ears too.
- Being watchful over what we consume through our eyes and ears. For example, the books we read; the type of movies we watch; the type of music we listen to; the type of preachers/teachers we listen to; etc.
Always remember, an unguarded heart is vulnerable to deceit and the schemes of the enemy.
Not only will guarding our hearts guard our own lives, but it will also guard others – as it will prevent us from being a weapon of the enemy in their lives. Moreover, guarding our hearts shields those with unguarded hearts – as what flows out of us will only be that which edifies and builds them up rather than tear them down. When we guard our hearts, the enemy will have a hard time of recruiting us to cause division, deceit, and hurt in the body of Christ.
God Loves You, Always & Forever!2