Published on March 7th, 2011 | by Stephanie S. Smith
Guarding Your Heart…from What?
DTR—Define the Relationship. That sometimes highly anticipated, and sometimes dreaded, catchphrase thrown around between young Christian singles as they try to figure out how the feel and where they stand about each other. Going to school at a Christian college, this term was part of our vocabulary. The period before the DTR was always dangerous territory, because what if she was totally oblivious to his pursuit and he was just misreading her? Or what if he didn’t want something serious? It’s always a risk to put your cards on the table, and friends who were reaching this point in a relationship often made this comment, “I just want to guard my heart.”
Guard your Heart as seen in Scripture
As in, Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” But what does that mean? Since this verse in Proverbs stands out on its own—without an overarching context, as far as I can tell—I can’t start there. So I discovered a new tool on Blue Letter Bible: next to each verse there is an option to use a Bible dictionary, which can clarify any words or subjects you read in the text. So I pulled up “Torrey’s New Topical Textbook” and searched for “heart,” which then gave me a list of the characteristics and instances of the heart all throughout Scripture.
These verses about the heart seem to demonstrate the heart as almost an epicenter of spiritual activity. The Old and New Testament teach that we are to serve God with our whole heart (Deut. 11:13), walk before God with our heart (1Kings 2:4), and love God with our heart (Mat. 22:37). This makes sense, then, to say that the heart is “the wellspring of life.” If God gives our heart such spiritual capacity, then it only makes sense to protect it at all costs! If our heart is the well from which our obedience to God flows, then we have to keep it pure.
I like what pastor Chuck Smith says about this verse, that we keep our heart pure by keeping it full. He says, “Let the Spirit fill your reservoir and His love will flow forth.”
Protect from Another Person?
This proverb has a ready application: “guard your heart.” But in studying it, I have to make a clarification: guarding your heart does not mean protecting your heart from another person, it means protecting your heart from sin. Proverbs 4:23 is a command to keep your “wellspring of life” pure from tainted waters. As Jesus says in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
If the heart is the source our actions, we must guard it carefully, filling it with God’s love and truth and keeping impure and immoral thoughts from muddying the waters! What are some practical ways that you guard your heart, or control what you’re taking in or exposing yourself to?