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Guard Your Heart

I don’t know about you, but when I hear people say, “guard your heart”, I immediately picture a game of capture the flag.  I see: me devising a plan that will keep anything and everything from getting to my heart and stealing it.  I picture everyone and everything that can reach my heart as an enemy of sorts.  I envision myself putting up all kinds of walls and shutting people out in order to protect my heart.  My guess is that Proverbs 4:23 was not meant to paint this picture.  I actually think that it’s far from the picture that should come to mind.

Proverbs 4:23

New International Version (NIV)

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

I don’t know exactly how this verse has so many people simply saying, “guard your heart”, but that is not the only piece of wisdom to take from it.  Though this is not the whole story, it is definitely a crucial part.  Even still, my capture the flag picture is completely off.

For starters, when I think “heart”, I almost instantly think “romance”, even though when the Bible mentions the heart, the chances that it is in a romantic context are slim to none.  Do I think it’s important to be wise and make thoughtful decisions when it comes to romance?  Absolutely.  Do I think this verse is meant to be directed at romance?  Absolutely not.  That would be selling it far too short.

My best understanding of the Bible’s idea of the heart is: the thoughts, emotions, feelings, desires, and motives of a person, including the ones that no one but God can possibly see and understand.  Our hearts are our core; what we think and know and even the things we can’t explain about ourselves.  The good and the bad.  The secrets that possibly no other human will ever know.  The thoughts running through our mind that we don’t even want to be thinking. Our struggles and temptations.  Our dreams that are too outrageous to share with anyone else.  The love and care we have for people that we can’t find a way to express.  I believe these are the things that our hearts are made of.

I think we control the state of our own heart.  We can filter what goes into our hearts and what we allow to pour out of them.

For this reason, the entire verse is so important.

Above all elseguard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

My understanding: I need to make sure that Jesus and I (most importantly Jesus) are cool with what is going into my heart because it will determine what happens with every other part of my life.

If you want a pure heart, make sure you’re allowing pure things in.  Don’t expect your heart to be light when you allow the worries of the world to weigh it down!  Protect your heart so that what comes from your heart will bring joy to God, yourself, and others.  The actions and words that a person uses are not random; they have taken a cue from that person’s heart.

Proverbs 4:23

New Living Translation (NLT)

23 Guard your heart above all else,

for it determines the course of your life.

This translation says that the heart determines the course of a person’s life.  No matter what translation I read, the verse emphasized the job of the heart just as much as guarding it.  This is why my capture the flag picture will no longer come to mind.  Yes, it is crucial for me to guard my heart, protect it, filter what goes into it, but it is just as important for me to let God in to change it, ask Him what I should be soaking up, and how I can best use my heart to determine my path.

Guarding my heart does not mean hiding it away for no one to reach; it means making careful decisions about what I allow to reach it so that my heart will present the best steps I can take in life.

By: Olivia Beam


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