“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
“Just follow your heart.” “Be true to your heart.” “What does your heart tell you?” This is the popular wisdom of our day. But we have all seen or experienced in one way or another that our tender little hearts can get us into trouble. It’s for this reason that the Book of Proverbs tells us to guard them.
According to Proverbs, the “heart” is what drives us to think, feel, and act the way we do. It’s who we really are underneath all the masks, pretenses, and personas we invent for others to see:
“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” Proverbs 27:19
Samuel spoke wisely when he said, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
We must guard our hearts diligently because they are so decisive in making us the people we are and so influential in directing the life that we live. But how do we do that, practically speaking?
There are two basic ways to guard your heart. The first way is to guard the impulses that come out of your heart, as seen in a father’s counsel to his own son to avoid the adulterous woman:
“Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” Proverbs 7:25
The second way is to guard the instruction that comes into your heart:
“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.” Proverbs 4:20-21
To guard your heart requires that you first understand and acknowledge its sinful impulses. It also requires an understanding of the gospel — that your sinful, foolish heart can be changed by the power of God’s grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It means continually renewing and refreshing your heart with instruction from God’s word, as seen in the example of the Psalmist who wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
God of all wisdom, nothing is hidden from You, and You know everything that is in my heart. Forgive me for the foolish and sinful desires that are there. Help me to guard my heart today from the impulses of sin, and help me to guide it according to the instruction of Your word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What impulse in your heart do you need to say “no” to? What instruction for your heart do you need to say “yes” to? Take a moment to talk to God about the answers to these questions.
Don't Leave the Door Open