A person’s heart, according to the Bible, is the seat of his emotions and his thoughts. In other words the heart contains the dreams, desires, passions, and hopes of a person. The heart directs the way we live.
While we in western culture have equated the heart with our emotions, the original hearers/readers of the Bible would have understood the heart to be person’s true self which was reflected in how he lived.
For us to be faithful and live holy lives it is vital that our hearts be healthy. Consider what Erwin McManus wrote; “When your heart is sick, it can spread everywhere. Like a cancer, despair in the human soul can cause all kinds of malfunctions” (Uprising; p. 133).
A sick heart robs us of hope and joy and it holds us back from truly following Jesus. To have a sick heart means that we will be depressed, angry, confused, anxious, and fearful. Rather than living a life of hope we will have a life full of despair. A sick heart will keep us from experiencing the life God wants us to enjoy.
Proverbs 4:23 reads; Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (NLT). Solomon tells us that we need to guard our hearts, for our hearts direct our lives. We need healthy hearts to live the life God created us to live.
The problem is that we don’t know how to do that.
While it is good that we study the Bible, worship, are in community with other Christians, and serve other people, we need to do more if our hearts are going to be protected. We have to make sure to remove and keep out the bad.
The main reason our hearts are sick and ailing is because of the presence of evil in our lives. This evil comes at us in the movies and television shows we watch, in the relationships we have with people who drag us down, and in the continued habitual sin of our lives. When this evil is present in our lives our hearts become sick and damaged.
So how do we guard our hearts? The apostle Paul wrote:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9; NLT)
We guard our hearts:
- through prayer. In prayer we switch our focus from our lives to God’s glory, we seek God’s will, and we ask God for our daily provision. Not only our provision for life, but also our provision for godliness. Remember God desires that we live by faith and have healthy hearts, so it is logical that we ask for His help.
- by living in peace. This is peace is not just the absence of conflict, but rather it is living the full life God created us to live. That is possible because our relationship with God has been restored through the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we live in confidence and faith, which is God’s peace, then a shield is raised around our hearts to protect it from the attacks of the enemy.
- by thinking good thoughts. Our minds must be set on the things of heaven rather than the things of this world. When our minds are consumed with the things for this world then we will be bombarded with evil, depression, anger, and the like. By setting our minds on the things of heaven our hearts are able to be filled with thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. The type of thoughts that will strengthen our hearts and make it more resistant to the evil that seeks to destroy it.
The heart is essential to our health. We need to be very mindful to guard our hearts. It is very precious for it directs our thoughts and our actions. Set a barrier of faith between your heart and the things of this world. Set your mind on the things of heaven rather than the things of earth. When we do these things we guard this great treasure God has given to us.
Questions to Consider:
- Why is the heart so important to living the Christian life?
- How has your heart been broken?
- What is one practical step you can take to guard your heart?