Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guarding Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life."

By now you've probably heard me mention this verse and guarding your heart many times, although it was recently brought to my attention that many people do not understand exactly what this means and looks like.  That's what this post is for.

First of all, let's look at the word heart.  The Hebrew word originally used was leb, which is defined as the heart, the feelings, and the intellect, or in other words, the center of everything. (Strong's Bible Dictionary) The Wesley commentary describes the heart as one's thoughts, will, and affections.

Taking all this into consideration, I would describe the heart as a person's passions, desires, and emotions. So these are the things Solomon is telling us to guard when he says "guard your heart."  But why is this so important?
  • In Job 31:1, Job talks about the importance of "keeping," or training your eyes not to look at things that cause you to sin, such as lustful looks towards a woman.  (Matthew 5:28-29 go further into detail about this.)  Point being: we guard our eyes.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:1 tells us to "guard our steps" when we go to the house of God, in other words, be careful.
  • Psalm 34:13 "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies."  We are told to guard our lips and tongue from evil.
  • And above all of this, God tells us to guard our hearts.
The NIV Study Bible says, "Our heart--our feelings of love and desire--dictates in a great extent how we live because we always find time to do what we enjoy."  The caution in this verse is to keep healthy boundaries on those passions and desires.  Make sure these feelings are pulling you in the right direction, and not away from God.