"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." Proverbs 4:23
Proverbs is the wisdom book. I love the honesty and practicality of this part of scripture. It strikes me as "Nuts and Bolts Christianity" or "Walking Out Your Faith 101" if you will. We are constantly confronted with the comparison of the wise person and the fool. Read very far at all and you'll figure out which one to shoot for.
Proverbs 4:23 has always and continues to speak a powerful message in my own life. Maybe because I need to read and reread it all the time for it to really sink in.
Do your ears perk up like mine do when you hear that phrase, "Above all else..."? I can remember in high school and college being in class and the teacher was trying to prepare everyone for an upcoming test. Whenever I heard the words, "Above all else", any daydreaming that may have been going on in my mind came to a quick halt. When the teacher used those three words, I knew that what came next would be invaluable if I wanted to do well on the exam.
Guarding our hearts is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Maybe because we aren't really sure how to do it. Sometimes because of hurts or scars from our past we have a tendency to cover and harden our hearts as in "no one will ever do that to me again". On the other hand, as women especially, we are often so hungry for love and security that we are too quick to give our hearts away. Where is that balance anyway? What does it really mean to guard our hearts?
The picture that comes to mind when I read this scripture is a heart with a fence around it and a gate that swings at the entrance. Only those feelings and emotions that have the proper clearance (from the Holy Spirit) have permission to enter. Bitterness, envy, unforgiveness, jealousy and anger must be refused. They cannot be allowed to walk through and set up shop--ever! Condemnation, rejection, shame, hopelessness must be purposely driven back and kept away. Why? Because what is in my heart affects everything I do! Notice it doesn't say "everything I think" but rather "everything I do"!
Every choice I make, every road I choose springs from what I have allowed to come to live in my heart. I must determine (sometimes daily -- even hourly) that bitterness and unforgiveness have no place in me. Anger and jealously are not welcome in this heart. Shame and hopelessness will have to look somewhere else to put down roots. The Lord lovingly reminds me that I must not let my guard down--even for one minute. I can't afford to.