“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
When I read this morning’s daily Bible verse…I was unsatisfied with my understanding of it.
Some verses are easy to digest, don’t require too much deep thought, and are always touted with context. But this one left me wanting to learn more.
And even though there was pressure to leave the verse as-is and get ready for work…I made a commitment to put God first and throughout; not rush God or fit Him in wherever convenient; and truly understand that if I make time for my Creator and Heavenly Father…He’d take care of my work.
I don’t live up to this resolve all of the time, but I had the strength today – so I’m taking advantage of it.
I won’t get into detail, but God provided =) And because of this, I was able to delve into this verse a lot more.
I did some research into explanations of this command, and found an article by Sophie McDonald. I highly recommend you read the entire thing, but below are passages that spoke to me.
“…nowhere in the Bible does God command us to keep or guard our hearts in our own strength. The Lord means for us to guard our hearts by filtering our emotions, desires, thoughts, and responses through his Word.
…The task is simple: We are commanded to keep ourselves in his Word, and he keeps our hearts.
‘…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.’ (Jude 21)
‘This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.’ (Psalm 18:30)
‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.’ (Psalm 119:9)
‘He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.’ (Proverbs 2:7-8, NIV)
We must remember that God’s way of guarding of our hearts may differ from our idea of how he will do so. We see in Scripture that God will not protect us from pain, hurt, or anything that will make us look more like Jesus (1 Peter 1:6-9). And he will not keep us from any circumstance or situation—no matter how brutal—that will lead us into a deeper knowledge of his heart.
The Lord, through his Word, is the guard, shield, and protector of our hearts. This doesn’t mean pain doesn’t come, but that when it does we can rest (and ultimately rejoice) because we know who has allowed it. This process, like everything else, goes back to either believing or disbelieving God’s character.
‘He who gave us a new heart can be trusted to protect it’ (Ezekiel 36:26).
What does this mean for us? Consider the following questions as we seek the Lord for his Spirit’s help in aligning our lives with his Word.
Are you actively setting the Word of God as a watchman over your soul by reading it and hearing it preached?
Are you filtering your circumstances, decisions, thoughts, and responses through what God’s Word says?
Do you prayerfully seek the Lord, trusting the One who gave you a new heart to protect it?
Are you trying to guard your heart in your own strength, or acknowledging your weakness and trusting the all-sufficient One to be your defender?”
I have a very hard time guarding my heart. Although I am saved, there are remnants of my past life that are still stuck to me.
I still cuss. I still joke about inappropriate stuff. I still listen to rap music (I grew up on 90s hip-hop *sigh*). I still idolize work and other non-God pursuits (like playing Overwatch lol!). I still play God and feel pressured to be the provider in my family. I still depend on personal development philosophies that should take backseat to His Word. I’m still reactive and impulsive without filter.
I want this public call-out to be my Prodigal Son moment; and to turn back to my Father so that I can stop being unsuccessful, disobedient, and exhausted from doing things without Him. I know that I don’t be perfect, and will falter still – but I’ve got to try. I’m missing out on so much blessing; and a life of joy and purpose.