“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23, KJV
I love the Word of God! I love that the words are God-breathed and that they have life. When I turn the pages, Life is speaking back to me, beckoning me to encounter its truths. I read sundry versions of the Bible, my favorites being the Amplified and English Standard Version translations. However, there are times when I must return to my roots and dig into my dependable King James Version.
I was reading some interesting tweets from my mentee, Nathalie, about how she plans to guard her heart. I was inspired and thought that I should share my thoughts on what I think it means to guard your heart. Guarding our hearts is a concept and phrase that is traditionally overused yet misunderstood. I whipped out my handy-dandy Dictionary for a better understanding, and I discovered two important facets.
1. Keep Thy Heart
I find it intriguing that the KJV says to keep—not guard—your heart. Now, in order to keep something, you have to have first received it into your possession. Whatever is “kept” is something that was given to you. If we look in the verses before Proverbs 4:20-22, it reads:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
We can see that there are things within our heart that should be kept, not just our emotional feelings alone. God wants us to keep His words hidden in our heart. Our hearts serve as the womb of the Word; just as an expectant mother would protect her stomach from external assault or carefully choose what food to consume, so must we be mindful of the Word we are carrying in our spiritual wombs.
2. Guard Your Emotions
Imagine you are a prison guard and you are responsible for the night watch to guard a detained prisoner in his cell. He is guilty of the most heinous crimes that could ever be committed. He has stolen, murdered, abused, cheated, raped, kidnapped, and robbed so many innocent people. The trail of broken people left in his past appears to be endless; he is greatly feared. You are the sole prison guard in charge of keeping this man detained, and ensuring he doesn’t attempt to escape under your nose. You know the world is safer while he is off the streets, so you don’t dare take your eyes off of him for a second. If he were to escape, the possibilities of evil are infinite.
That man represents the fickle emotions in our hearts—evil and deceiving. The prison guard is our spirit man. Our spirit should be diligent, as the Bible says, in holding our hearts (emotions) in custody because if the evil tendencies of the heart escapes, then there are no limits to the horrors that could occur. Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) says,
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Guarding our hearts has a lot to do with guarding our emotions under a watchful eye. The same intensity and seriousness we would approach guarding a serial killer is the the same way we should keep our deceitful emotions away. If we allow our emotions to run rampant in our relationships, friendships, or businesses, we would wreak havoc that could cause mass destruction. Does this mean we should never allow our emotions to be displayed? Not so! God created our emotions. However, we should be intentional about allowing the Word (keep thy heart) to wash and cleanse our emotions until our heart is transformed to look like Jesus.
My prayer is that we will receive the Word, keep the Word, and use it to combat our ungodly emotional tendencies. May our deepest desires please Him. May He wreck us and make our hearts brand new. May He transform us and give us hearts like His. May Holy Spirit control my emotions in every aspect. May our hearts your home, Jesus.