14 Feb Guard Your Heart
“Guard your heart.”
You’ve probably heard that before…more times than you can count.
I know I have. I’ve heard it, repeated it, tried and failed to obey it. I’ve cracked jokes about it in reference to dating and relationships. I’ve listened to sermons and read articles trying to understand why I should guard my heart and what that even looks like. I’ve also heard the response that guarding your heart is pointless because relationships are just messy.
As you may already know, this saying that has become so popular in our Christian circles actually does come from Scripture (unlike some of our other clichés). Proverbs 4:32 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
But, honestly, I think we’ve missed the point.
Here’s why – we’ve made this verse completely about ourselves.
So, I’m not going to tell you to guard your heart. I’m not going to tell you not to guard you heart. And, no, I’m not just going to tell you to let Jesus guard your heart either. Even then, I think I’d still be missing the beauty displayed in this verse…stay with me, because you have to see this.
It didn’t dawn on me until about a year ago, when I opened the Bible and started studying Proverbs 4:23. Slowly, God started to unveil this truth.
Proverbs is a book of wisdom literature. It’s full of practical instruction for a life spent faithfully following the Lord. One of its authors is King Solomon, David’s son. What qualifies him to write a book of wisdom? Well, in 1 Kings 3-4, we see God give Solomon “wisdom and understanding beyond all measure…” We’re told people of all nations, even other kings, came to hear his wisdom.
So, obviously, the instruction found in Proverbs is important, right? I mean, I should at least try to make some sense of it…
In Proverbs 4:20-27, the passage surrounding verse 23, the author says that these wise words give life, using the imagery of a path to make his point – these instructions are given as protection, meant to keep us following a path that is sure and straight.
Well, that’s obvious, Solomon. Jesus is the path of life (John 14:6). But how does that relate to guarding my heart? Is guarding my heart part of following Him? Eh…it still wasn’t really connecting.
Then I read verse 23 again (emphasis added):
“Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life”
Read that second line again. What imagery is he using now? Water. A spring – a natural source of water for rivers or streams.
That sounds familiar…doesn’t Jesus say something like this somewhere?
Yes. He does.
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-39).
Christ is that spring. He is the source of the living water that Solomon writes about in Proverbs.
Oh, and one more thing about the wisdom of Solomon. Paul writes that it’s Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). The giver, sustainer, and protector of life Himself is also the source of all wisdom for the writer of Proverbs.
You see, Proverbs 4:23 is not primarily about us and our relationships with other people. I don’t think that the focus of this verse is about us and our ability, or inability, to protect our hearts in the context of interpersonal relationships.
I have to ask…why? Why do we only apply this verse to relational boundaries, anyway? Don’t get me wrong, those boundaries are absolutely beneficial, but this is more than just a filter for interactions with other people. This is a call to something greater than that.
As a follower of Christ, the Spirit has awakened you to the relationship you were created for. This is what you are being called to in this passage: more of Him.
So how can I “guard my heart”? God meets with His people through His Word, so read it! Open it up and get to know the One who gave His life to give you a new heart, His heart. Get to know Him. Read about His love for you.
Hear Him say, “I have called you by name, you are mine.”
See His promise to never leave you or forsake you, but to come for you.
Be awed, as God, in the great love with which He loves you, becomes man to live and die for you. He took your sin, your shame, upon Himself. No one’s ever sacrificed and loved you this way.
Let His wounds heal yours.
Then like Thomas, fall at His feet saying, “My Lord and My God.”
Go to Him. That is how to “guard your heart.”
Robbie Fore is on the Summit College Staff Team at North Carolina State University.
Come out to Brier Creek South for SC United next Friday at 7 pm to hear more about how to make sense of love and romance and how to avoid idolatry in your relationship or singleness!