There are a few key pieces of advice that form the foundation of our lives. One of them is to guard your heart. To some this may mean to protect yourself from being heartbroken in a relationship and some others may take it to mean guard your physical heart (which isn’t a bad idea). But, when Proverbs 4:23 says to guard your heart, it means to protect your mind.
In this article, I’ll share three reasons why you should guard your heart. The reasons are:
- Your Heart Determines What You Say
- Your Heart Determines What You Do
- Your Heart Determines What You Are Attached To
Let’s now take a closer look at each of these reasons.
Your Heart Determines What You Say
What was the last thing you got excited about? Whatever it was, I bet you wanted to tell people about it. The things you get excited about sharing are things connected to your heart and this human instinct is the basis of the first reason why you should guard your heart above all else. That reason is “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45 NIV), in other words, your heart determines what you say.
The things you say are powerful. They can lift others up or tear them down. They can open up or close doors. Even the effectiveness of your prayers is based on what you say.
What You Say Affects Others
Have you ever had an idea you wanted to pursue and when you shared it with someone they said something discouraging and it stopped you from moving forward? On the other hand, has someone ever said something encouraging to you and it left you inspired? That is how powerful words are. Just like you are affected by the things people say, so are people affected by the things you say. This makes guarding your heart from which your words stem necessary.
If all that ever gets into your heart is negativity, that will cause you to speak negative things. If all you hear are the reasons why something can’t be done, you will remind yourself of it when you think about achieving it. So, to prevent you from keeping yourself back, guard your heart against the things that will cause you to speak negatively.
What We Say Affects Our Prayers
According to The Bible, the key to God answering a person’s prayers is whether or not that person asks for things that are according to God’s will. 1 John 5:14 states that “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV). In order for you to ask, you have to speak, and if what you say stems from your heart, whether or not God answers your prayers depends on what’s in your heart.
To avoid God ignoring your prayers, you have to guard your heart against desires that are not in the will of God and open up your heart to the desires that are. The more effectively you do this, the more likely each word you say in prayer will align with God’s will.
While this may sound straightforward, guarding your heart against desires that are not in God’s will is not easy. As a result, you may often find yourself in a state where you are unclear of what to pray for. Thankfully The Bible states that:
…The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
Your Heart Determines What You Do
The second reason you should guard your heart above all else is that your heart determines what you do. Proverbs 4:23 gives this warning directly: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV). Notice that it states that “everything you do” comes from your heart. This includes both good and bad things. Let’s look at a few biblical examples that expand on this and its importance to guarding your heart.
The Good Things You Do Is Based On Your Heart
One thing that is important to know since all the good that you do comes from your heart is that you must first be trusted before you are placed in a position of authority. What does that mean? Well, often people think that they will have the right heart after they are placed in a position that requires them to. That is misleading and the truth is the opposite.
David Chosen As King Because of His Heart
Consider David and the reason God chose him to be the next king. Acts 13:22 states that “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (NIV). God selected David because God knew David would do the things He wanted him to do and God was sure of that because David was a man after His heart.
When Samuel was sent to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next King, at first he thought one of the sons that had a kingly appearance was the one, but God told him “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). It was David’s heart that made him qualified to be king in God’s eyes and the reason David’s heart mattered is that a person’s heart determines the good that they’ll do.
The Bad Things You Do Is Based On Your Heart
Have you ever wondered why people do bad things? Some will argue it’s The Devil, but although the Devil may play a part, the real reason is the desires in a person’s heart. Leading up to why a person does wrong, James 1:14 states that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (NIV). This is the reason why all people aren’t tempted to do the same things. The evil desires that find a way into your heart are the seeds that cause temptation that then leads you to do bad things.
Jesus spells it out clearly in Mark 7:21-22. He said, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (NIV). These things can only come out of your heart if they first got in somehow. That’s why it’s important to guard your heart above all else.
Your Heart Determines What You Are Attached To
The last reason to guard your heart above all else is that your heart determines what you are attached to. This is the eventual point you are led to whenever something enters your heart. In the beginning, you start to say things that are in your heart. Then your actions begin to reflect those things. After that, you develop an attachment that ultimately makes or breaks you.
Whatever Your Heart Is Attached To, You Go Down With
What you’re attached to is important because whatever you are attached to, you go down with. An example of this is what happened to Lot’s wife when Sodom and Gomorrah were being destroyed. After being warned not to look back as they left the city, Lot’s wife looked back and lost her life as a result. In her heart, she was still attached to the city and that attachment caused her to lose her life. It’s as if your house is burning down. Depending on how much you are attached to the things in it, you may find yourself running into a burning house trying to save what you can.
In general, The Bible warns us not to get attached to the things of the world. The things of this world may get stolen or in time fade away (Matthew 6:19). If you treasure them, you will be left heartbroken in the end, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV).
Our Hearts Should Be Attached To God
As a side note, as a believer, the one person worth attaching your heart to is God. The lyrics of the popular gospel song, Your Presence Is Heaven To Me, describes Jesus as “the cup that won’t run dry.” In Isaiah 26:3, the prophet states a song will be sung to God including the words “you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT).
Since Christ is the solid rock and all other grounds are sinking sand, above all else, guard your heart against things that will only drown you in the end.
How To Guard Your Heart
Now that you know 3 reasons to guard your heart above all else, I want to end with how to do it. Before you can guard your heart, you have to know what to guard it against. That knowledge is found in The Bible and there are often stories of what happened to those that didn’t protect themselves.
For example, God told Solomon not to marry foreign women, because they will lead him to worship their gods. Despite being known for his wisdom, by ignoring that advice he was led astray. Another biblical example of what to watch out for is false prophets. It states that “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15 NIV).
Armed with the knowledge of what to look out for, you then guard your heart by recognizing the threats and eliminating them at first sight. It’s as if your heart is a building and you are the security guard. As soon as you see something that looks like it will cause damage, you should take it down before it gets any closer.
If you find yourself speaking often of a bad thing, that thing has already crept into your heart. Drown it out by shutting off the source and replacing it with good things. If you let it start to influence what you do, removing it from your heart gets harder.
The command to guard your heart above all else is no exaggeration. From your heart comes the things you say, the things you do, and eventually the things you are attached to. Your life is a reflection of your heart and since it has that much power over who you are, you should indeed guard it above all else.