Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life, (Proverbs 4:23, NLT).
Friend to Friend
A friend asked me the other day, “How’s your heart?” It really struck a chord with me because most of the time people just ask, “How are you doing?” And we tend to tell them what they want to hear. But this friend went deeper into what really matters in life—the heart.
Sometimes we can feel like life is too busy to get real. Pain is often too deep to let even a bit of it creep out. Maybe living on-the-surface with each other feels more bearable . . . even more socially acceptable. But the problem with on-the-surface living is that we’re ignoring what God wants us to give serious attention to – the state of our hearts – which influences everything in our lives.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) states “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” We may believe this means we’re supposed to protect ourselves from anything that might hurt us, thus being vulnerable, revealing our weakness, making a request for connection, or even admitting our sin to one another should be off-limits.
But that kind of guarding is really mask-wearing, and it continues to keep us isolated and struggling alone. I get, though. It’s hard to trust another human being to kindly handle our imperfections. I’ve been hurt on more than one occasion by a sister who saw me one way and then couldn’t handle the reality of my mess. In the aftermath, I’ve been tempted to hide away and resist connecting with anyone for fear of getting hurt again and feeling like a disappointment. Can you relate?
But here’s the deal, sister. We need to use discernment in choosing with whom we share our hearts. There are people we need to “keep out” as part of healthy heart-guarding.
The “heart,” in a biblical context, refers to the “seat of appetites, emotions, passions, courage; heart of moral character; inclinations, resolutions, determination; mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory”. To guard our hearts, we have to be aware of our longings, desires, dreams, wants, temptations, influences, and motives. And we need to do this guarding “above all else,” which is translated from the Hebrew word “kol” and means “all, the whole of, each, every, anything, totality, everything.”
As they say, “what goes in must come out,” so when it comes to our heart, we have to become more aware of everything that goes in by examining everything that comes out. We have to look at the connection between the influence on our lives and our actions. And whether we’d like to admit, we need others to help us in this process. We’re not on a solo mission, sister. God designed us for connection with Him and each other (Romans 15:1, 1 Corinthians 12, James 5:16). So, when we guard against everyone, we’re guarding the wrong thing.
I’m so thankful for the friend that asked me, “How’s your heart?” So, I’m going to ask you, today “How’s your heart?”
Dear Lord, thank You that You care about what’s going on inside my heart because You know it shapes my outer life. Forgive me for the times I forsake guarding what goes into my heart. Help me to be real with myself, You, and others. Help me find the courage to make the necessary changes in my life as I guard what You have given me to steward – my heart, Your dwelling place.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What is one way that you can guard your heart? Click comment and let’s chat.
Who can you reach out to and ask, “How’s your heart?” Maybe you can even share this with a friend and be bold enough to say, “I give you permission to ask me how my heart is doing too.”
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