Scripture: Proverbs 4 (focus on v. 23)
Observation: Be vigilant about protecting your heart; it’s what ultimately determines the course of your life.
Application: How many of us cringe when we think about our high school romances? I am with you. Let’s just insert about 1,000 face palm emojis and call it a day.
Did you ever give someone your heart who didn’t treat it well? I did. I had an on-again, off-again boyfriend in high school who had way too much power over my emotions; some days, he was “all in,” talking to me after school and walking me to classes, and then other days, he’d ignore me altogether.
I had given him my heart in that sloppy, desperate way only 16-year-olds can do. And all of the sudden, my whole life felt dependent on him – if we were talking, I was happy; if we weren’t, I was miserable.
The condition of our heart determines our wholeness. It’s why protecting it and guarding it and treating it well matters so much.
I love how the Message version puts this verse:
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” (v. 23-27)
When my heart is controlled by someone (or something) else, I miss out on God’s very best for me.
So how do we protect our hearts? We must make a diligent, daily effort to keep our eyes fixed on God and away from all “sideshow distractions,” which can range from relationships to social media to addictions to hobbies-turned-obsessions. We do this by:
- Devoting part of our day to God: In our church, we call this a “slot and spot,” a time and place each day that we’ve carved out for God to read the Bible, pray, and worship him. My slot and spot is at 5:30 a.m. each morning (with a side of hot coffee).
- Finding a community of faith: We were designed to do life with others! We stay focused on God when we’re worshipping with a community of believers, connecting with them, and serving alongside of them.
- Serving others: When we serve others – in our household, our church, our community – we get our eyes off of ourselves and on to the ones around us. We reflect the defining character of Jesus – the heart of a servant.
- Being diligent about what we let into our lives: Are we consuming things that bring us closer to the heart of the Father or further away from him? Sometimes, TV shows, social media, certain people, relationships, or books can all distract or discourage us from connecting with him.
When we guard our hearts, we come closer to the heart of the Father.
What is one way you can guard your heart this week?
Prayer: God, I pray that I’ll passionately guard my heart – not legalistically, but out of a deep desire to know you better. When you speak, I pray that I will listen. Amen.