Proverbs 4:23 …
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do, flows from it ~ NIV
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life ~ NLT
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life ~ KJV
There were a lot of things that God placed on my heart last year in 2018 that I did not write a blog post about. However, God wouldn’t let me rest until I wrote a post about this. So, I know someone must needs this, as much as I needed the lesson.
The phrase guard your heart comes from the Bible, Proverbs 4:23. The book of Proverbs was partially written by King Solomon who was known to be one of the wisest men on earth, because of the wisdom that God gave him. (1 King 3) The remaining authors of the book comprise of otherwise teachers and advisors. Proverbs is a book of wise teachings often formatted as a conversation between a father and a son. It gives us practical steps on how to live our life and strongly urges us to give attention to the words of the book for they are like life and health to us. Proverbs 4:20-22.
I frequently heard it said for a long time, “guard your heart, guard your heart.” Truth be told, I never knew what it meant unto recently, I also never understood how important it is to guard, unto recently.
I went through a situation with someone that ended with me being hurt, funny enough, this wasn’t the first time I had gone through a similar situation. When it happened the second time I went to God and poured out my heart and asked Him why it had happened, that I hadn’t done anything wrong and that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. In such a still, calm and gentle voice, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I hadn’t guarded my heart. Even though what the other person did wasn’t right I wouldn’t have been as affected by it, if I had guarded my heart.
God loves His children and He does not want to see us hurt or upset. When God prompts you to be cautious or not to entertain something, listen to Him. You may not understand at that moment why, but you will one day. God had actually prompted me to guard my heart in this situation before everything went south and I ended up hurt, but I didn’t listen because I thought I didn’t need to. I was very wrong!
The situation is what lead me to do a bible study on the topic of guarding my heart, which I know will save me a lot of needless pain in the future. Also, it is important to mention that guarding your heart does not just apply to romantic relationships, it applies to everything and everyone. You shouldn’t be letting people, whoever they are, speak hurtful and negative words into your life. You need to guard yourself from that before those words take root in your heart. Always believe in what God says about you, if what other people say does not align with what He said, then dump what they said in the bin. Period!
To understand what it means to guard your heart we need to understand what the author was saying. Proverbs was written in Hebrew, and sometimes to get a full understanding of what the author was saying we have to look at the original Hebrew words used. This helps me to break down the meaning of a lot of Bible scriptures when I am studying the Bible. I frequently use an app called ‘Blue Letter Bible’ it’s so useful. I’m going to be translating from the KJV version which says, ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.’ ~ Proverbs 4:23
The Hebrew word for ‘Keep’ is natsar. This word means:
- to keep
- to guard
- watch over
- guard from dangers
- guard with fidelity (Fidelity means diligence)
- kept secret
- to be kept close
- and my personal favourite… to be blockaded.
- This same Hebrew word, natsar was also translated to mean ‘hidden things’ in Isaiah 48:6.
This should be giving you a better picture of what the author meant when he said ‘keep.’
These are all similar words but as you go through them you start to see that ‘to be kept secret’ or even ‘blockaded’ has a much powerful and stronger meaning than just ‘keep.’ This helped me to see that NO ONE should have easy access to your heart. Guarding your heart doesn’t mean no one and nothing gets in, but it means that there should be a filtering process at the door of your heart that only allows certain things to get in. Nothing should be allowed to just waltz into your heart easily. Nothing at all!
In the old testament, the Hebrew word used for the heart was ‘leb’. However, when the bible talks about the heart, especially in the old testament it is not just talking about our physical heart, emotions and feeling. Old Testament writers did not have a concept of the brain or have a word for it. They believed that we operated from of our heart and all our intellectual understanding came from the heart.
For example, you think in your heart (Proverbs 23:7) Wisdom dwells in your heart (Proverbs 2:10), you discerned with your heart (1 Kings 3:9) These are all things that nowadays we would say we do with our mind, and we would say that wisdom dwells in our mind.
So, the concept of the heart encapsulated the source of physical life, our emotions, thoughts and where we make choices motivated by our desires. (1 Chronicle 22:7)
I mention all that to say, we are not only guarding our emotions and feelings but also, our minds! This is where the revelation hit for me because I only thought of guarding my heart in an emotional context. This means that what you think about yourself matters, what you think about other people matter and most importantly what you think about God matters. Your thoughts have a big impact on determining the direction your life takes.
The bible says that as a man thinks in his heart so he shall be. Proverbs 23:7. Your thoughts determine the direction of your life, so you must protect your mind, and control what you think about, and what you think about yourself. I know that this is something that so many people struggle with, I included. However, you can control your mind, you have power over your thoughts through Christ Jesus. The Bible teaches us to take every thought into captivity and bring down every vain imagine into the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) God will never instruct us to do something that He has not equipped us to do. However, our problem is that many of us try and fight by ourselves, instead of using the power of Jesus to bring our thoughts into the obedience of Christ. I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength!
Praying to God to empower you and teach you how to control your mind, is one side of guarding your mind. The other side is doing the work! Philippians 4:8-9 gives us a list of things that we should fix our thoughts on. What is even more beautiful, is that when we think about those things, the Bible tells us that the God of peace will be with us. In Philippians 4:6-7 the bible also teaches us what to do with the thoughts that cause us to worry and gives us instructs on how to deal with them. The result of following those instructions is that ‘the God of peace will guard our hearts and minds.’ God wants to help you through this, the Bible even says that God himself will be the one guarding your heart and your mind for you.
The bible is clearly teaching us that God has a part to play in guarding our hearts and minds, but so do we. We have a role in maintaining our peace. God tells us what to do and tells us the result. There is no point praying to God to guard our heart and mind if we are not already doing what is necessary. You can pray to God to strengthen you to think on what is pure and holy, but you have to be disciplined to do it and keep doing it.
I hope this has given you a better understanding of what it means to guard your heart and how to do it.
Stay Blessed x