23 Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
Can I be real for a second? Okay, here it is: I struggle with this verse, and I especially struggle with this verse during this season of life. I am a twenty-something, single gal, so I hear this verse A LOT. It’s the verse that’s most commonly accompanied by a conversation on dating and a couple of eye-rolls.
“Guard your heart.” It’s frustrating. But, why? Why am I so bothered by those three words: Guard. Your. Heart? As I thought about writing this devotional, the Lord has taken time to work on my heart and specifically how my heart reacts to reading, hearing, and taking action with this verse. Whenever I hear this phrase, it’s usually the ending of a conversation, and more often than not, it feels like a punch line picked up from the Christian jargon pile without any unpacking or explaining. My frustration lies in never fully understanding what it means to guard the heart or how to guard it. So, let’s unpack it together.
How important is the heart?
As Proverbs 4:23 says, the heart is the source of LIFE. If this is the case, wouldn’t it make sense for Satan to make the heart his main target? When we understand the fragility and importance of having a healthy heart, we will make it more of a priority to protect it. If we lose heart, we lose everything.
What does it mean to guard the heart?
To GUARD means to protect, defend, to keep safe, to keep watch, to look out, to preserve. I love the idea of keeping my heart safe. It’s precious so protect it, to keep it away from danger.
How do we actively guard our hearts?
This is the question that I am most actively seeking the answer to. Without taking steps to guard our hearts, we miss the point. But, exactly HOW do we guard it? God must have known I would be asking this because the following verses break down three ways to specifically guard our hearts. 1. Protect your speech. 2. Protect your eyes. 3. Protect your path. (For reference, read Proverbs 4:24-26)
If we truly want to see our lives change, we must guard our hearts. It’s the source of life, and everything flows from it.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How are you practically guarding your heart today, this week, this month?
- Take time to assess what goes in and comes out. Is it pleasing to God?
- What kind of lifestyle changes should you start making in order to keep your heart safe?
The Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” What comes out in our words, actions, thoughts, and motives is a direct result of what is in our hearts. Imagine that you went to a birthday party and there was a piñata. What do you want to find inside a piñata? You discover candy and goodies. But, how would you feel if the piñata burst open and yucky, stinky trash came out? Gross!
For this activity, grab some paper and writing utensils. Take two pieces of paper and draw a big heart on each piece. In the middle of one heart, write the word, “good.” In the middle of the other heart, write the word, “yucky.” Now that your hearts are ready, discuss as a family some things that would fill the hearts with good or yucky things (i.e. obeying your parents would fill your heart with good things and making fun of someone would fill your heart with yucky things). Fill both the hearts with examples and ask your child/children which heart they would rather have. Use the hearts as examples for your actions.
Pray for global workers (missionaries) all over the world. Pray for their health, courage, wisdom, and creativity in staying connected to neighbor. Pray for fruitful opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus during the pandemic.