Guarding Your Heart

“Guard your heart.” I’m sure girlfriends who are younger than me get really sick of me saying this whenever they ask me for advice. That’s my default answer to just about every situation they can throw at me–but obviously, it’s extremely important to guard your heart because everything that we do flows from it. Image from Disciple Magazine [http://www.disciplemagazine.com/www/articles/144.478]

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
{Proverbs 4:23}

Secure it. Shelter it. Shepherd it. Shield it. Tend to it. Defend it. Watch it. Preserve it. Keep an eye on it. Guard it!

It’s easy for me to tell them to guard their hearts, but it’s much more difficult to actually apply it–especially when I forget to remind them that it’s only through Christ that a heart can be guarded.  

For several years now, I’ve pondered this verse and how it corresponds to Philippians 4:7. The relation between these two verses is so beautiful!

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
{Philippians 4:7}

If I am trying to guard my own heart, I will fail every time. But as Paul closes out his letter to the church at Philippi, he reminds them that the peace of God is what guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus!

The peace of God will guard it! Where does the peace of God come from? First off, you must realize that there’s nothing you can do on your own to please the holy and righteous God of the universe. We are at enmity with Him. There is no peace. The good news is that the holy and righteous God of the universe has provided a way for us to have peace with Him! He provided a way for us to escape His just judgment through His mercy in sending His Son. Jesus Christ died the death that you deserved to die. And when you place your faith in Christ and what He has done, He cleanses you from your sin–just as if you never sinned!–and clothes you with His righteousness. THEN we have peace with God!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
{Romans 5:1}

Since I have been justified by faith, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ, my Lord. He is my Master who knows what is best for me and I serve Him out of a heart of gratitude. I have eternal peace, but sometimes I can lose that sense of peace when I stray from what He wants me to do. When my heart becomes zoned out and lazy, unwatchful and unalert, my guard is down. It becomes easy to default to my fleshly depraved nature and lose all sense of peace.

But to add peace in my life, I simply need to obey what God has told me to do.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
{Proverbs 3:1-2}

It seems like God is always teaching me the same lesson: Get in the Word, apply what He shows you in the Word, and He will always bless you with peace as you’re obeying.

But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
{2 Thessalonians 3:3}

The Lord will be faithful to keep my heart for all eternity. May I be swift to obey all He has laid out in His Word!

Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
{Proverbs 4:23-27}

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Open Wide

“Open wide your heart.” 2 Corinthians 6:13

Opening your heart up to others, letting them in, and loving them can be so painful. The more you love, the more apt you are to getting your heart a little banged and bruised up.

When you open your heart to others, it can start to fill up quickly and get heavy at times. People share their burdens, which can sometimes become overwhelming. Wide-open hearts provide lots of opportunities for heartbreak. But at the same time, they also provide a lot of opportunities for joy.

What I have to keep reminding myself is that God opened up His heart to me, a rebellious sinner who broke the heart of the very One who created me. His love is so pure and unconditional and He expects nothing in return.  Absolutely nothing will be able to separate us from His love. {Romans 8:39} As Tullian Tchividjian wrote in Surprised by Grace, “Once we know that we’re forever loved by Jesus, we’re free to love others regardless of the risk, because our deep need to love will be satisfied.”

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”  1 Peter 1:22

May I love others well with the same kind of love that God showed to me: an unconditional, never-giving-up, in-spite-of, expecting-nothing-in-return, forever love. As I open my heart wide to others, I must trust the Maker of my heart to protect it. And He will.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one,
not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.
It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
{C.S. Lewis in “The Four Loves”}