Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Prov 4:23 (ESV)
If you’re looking for a source of wisdom and insight in how to live in a way that pleases God, then Proverbs 3 and 4 is the place for you. The words are written by a loving father to his son, as a way to guide him on a path that brings full life. They are no less relevant to any woman living in a modern world. Proverbs 4:23 is one of my favorites because it’s a truth that I learn over and over again.
The father starts off the passage with these words: My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. (CSB)
This dad knows a thing or two. He’s older, wiser and has more life experience than the child. Isn’t that the truth for us too? We teach the younger generation what we know so that they don’t make the same mistakes. We offer them shortcuts to happiness because we want what’s best for them and honestly, most often, people are the source of trouble. It might be something we’ve done or something done to us, but either way, we don’t emerge unscathed —we learn lessons and live with the repercussions.
So, the father insists, guard your heart above all else.
In antiquity the “heart” represented a person’s inner self. The inner world we all have where our thoughts, emotions and ideas live and grow. Our spirit, if you will. He instructs his child to guard it — to protect and preserve it. When I picture the scripture, I imagine myself as an actual guard. A prison guard (in uniform) staying on alert and keeping watch on myself and the happenings around me.
A good guard doesn’t let just anyone get close to the prisoner. She doesn’t open the cell door, wave random people in, and let them sleep in the bunks.
Our heart deserves the same consideration. After all, it’s our interior sacred space. We meet with God in this place. We dream, and hope, and grow in Christ in our innermost being. Not everyone deserves entry or has our best interests in mind.
I learned this lesson (again) recently when I let my guard down and invited someone into my home and heart. I excused some bad behavior and allowed boundaries to be crossed in spite of what my heart told me. I should have whipped out my taser and slammed the cell door shut because in the end, I felt like the prisoner. Lesson learned.
Now I’m like the wise parent and here’s my advice: Always stay on high alert and expect trouble. Examine your own life. Are you doing something that you know is wrong? If so, change direction (that’s repentance), turn to God and have a trusted friend hold you accountable. Take time to build trust with any new people in your life. If they can’t change or continually hurt you, kindly end the relationship.
Your heart matters to Jesus. It’s his home and he wants you to have a full life!