“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
For so long this verse meant to me a focus on your heart when it comes to relational involvement…boyfriend/girlfriend, crushes, marriage, and the like. It still does in so many ways. Lately though, I have found that guarding my heart has taken on a much different perspective.
I was not careful to guard my heart when it came to every relationship or situation. Instead I bore out my heart to people in ways that ended up being used to harm me–ultimately altering the course of my life.
I assumed the “guard your heart” business meant around those non-believers, those seeking ill toward me as a believer or having lascivious plans for my heart. Never did I once think about guarding my heart from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Isn’t that often what we find though? That we are hurt by those carrying the banner as family in Christ?
A guarded heart is one aware, not naive, but cautious in it’s pursuits and relationships. Not self-seeking but also not freely given. Guarded hearts seek understanding yet are slow to react. Choosing quiet and responsiveness over impassioned reactions. (Yes there is a difference between a response and a reaction) It is always on alert, armed for conflict and patrolling around the entire perimeter of the inner self, the heart within. There’s a reason why thieves often choose the cover of night to slip in, they need the darkness to intrude and steal.
A guarded heart is to be valued, above all else. It means not only I be on guard but entrusting it to God to safely hold it, knowing His promises are true and faithful. It determines the course of my life, and when not taken care to protect, it can lead to heartache and trouble that could have been protected against. The heart pursues, often after desired things-things not put before Him but of the flesh, when it is left unguarded. Taking care to mind what it engages in, and what it doesn’t, makes the courses of life diverge greatly in two directions.