Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Do you lock your house before leaving home? Do you check your bank account to make sure it hasn’t been hacked? Do you report unauthorized use of your credit card? Do you carefully guard your Social Security number, as well as the passwords to your phone and computer? These are things I am very careful to guard. I’ve even been known to check two and three times to see if the front door is locked and to frequently pat my pocket to see that my wallet is still there. People pay a lot of money to enlist others to help them guard their homes, cars, credit cards, computers, identity, and personal information. We are rightly on guard and security conscious, especially these days!
Most importantly, today’s Scripture calls for our greatest vigilance to be placed in guarding our hearts. The first line of today’s scripture admonishes in the original Hebrew, “above all your guarding, guard your heart.” That is, more than you would guard your home, your finances, property, and identity, guard your heart. It’s that important! But for the Hebrew reader, the “heart” (Hebrew: lev) did not represent that marvelous organ containing chambers and ventricles pumping blood throughout the body. Rather, the heart stood for the whole inner life of a person. The heart was symbolic of a person’s thought life, affections, values, ambitions, and choices all rolled into one. The heart is like the cockpit of a giant 747 controlling the plane, or the bridge in which a ship is commanded.
The heart of the matter truly is the matter of the heart. So we must guard it, and guard it carefully. In the Hebrew text of today’s scripture, Solomon uses a word describing a watchman keeping guard over a city, or a soldier keeping guard over a prisoner. It calls for careful, watchful, ever a vigilant concern, Solomon warns, because “everything you do flows from it.” Solomon here draws on the imagery of a spring of water that in an arid, dry land was regarded as precious, carefully guarded, and sometimes locked (See: Song of Solomon 4:12). To allow a spring to be polluted or poisoned would endanger literally everything flowing from it.
The Lord Jesus picks up on Solomon’s warning about guarding the heart, or our inner person, when He says: “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23, emphasis added).
Yes, I want to guard my home, my finances, and my identity. But, far more than anything I want to guard my heart; for out of the heart, “everything you do flows from it.” As I have thought about guarding my heart, I have become concerned about some things I have allowed to go on inside of me. I share these things, hoping they might be helpful to you:
- I want to guard my heart against excessive use of television, and excessive intake of the news.
- I want to guard my heart by feeding it more ‘heart-healthy food’ like God’s Word, and thinking on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable (See Philippians 4:8).
- I want to guard my heart by letting go wrongs done to me, or thinking I need to judge others or even the score.
- I want to guard my heart by spending more time with positive people who love the Lord and love others unconditionally.
- I want to guard my heart by excusing myself from gossip or meddling in other peoples’ business.
- I want to guard my heart by spending more alone time with Abba Father in praise, prayer, and Scripture meditation.
- I want to guard my heart by simply letting God love me, just as I am!
Yes, I am still going to lock my car, my front door, and keep watch on my credit card, but most of all, with God’s help, I am going to guard what’s going on inside me! Everything else will flow from that!
A fellow traveler,