Seven Ways to Guard Your Heart (Because the Heart is the Heart of the Matter)
When I was nine years old, I received a Spirograph for Christmas. It was SO cool! Using different plastic discs with colored pens allowed you to create elaborate spiral drawings that were interconnected.
When I think about guarding our hearts, I imagine all the different colored “influential lines” woven in and around our hearts like the spirograph.
What we see affects our hearts.
What we hear affects our hearts.
What we think affects our hearts.
These examples only skim the surface of factors that influence our hearts. No wonder scripture tells us that we must guard them.
But what does it mean to guard? I love these synonyms:
There’s a lot to learn by unpacking these.
One definition of the word defend is to speak in favor of. At first, that seemed like a strange way of guarding our hearts. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
How many of us have ever struggled with negative self-talk? Beating ourselves up for something that happened five minutes ago or five years ago? When the enemy is trying to box us in a cage of self-contempt, we need to guard our hearts by speaking the favorable truth of what God says about us:
“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” Is. 43:1
When our self-talk becomes self-derogatory, may we speak God’s word over our hearts. We are wonderfully made and created by Him. We make mistakes, but He redeems them. We are His, and He cherishes us.
The word chaperone seems like an odd way to think about guarding our hearts, and yet it also makes perfect sense. A chaperone is defined as:
“a person who accompanies and looks after another person when that individual is with one or more other people.”
Imagine all the places and people there are in the world that can impact our hearts. This word implies that we must intentionally accompany our heart wherever it goes. We must observe our surroundings and ensure that the heart is protected from any harm it may experience in that environment.
The idea of shepherding our hearts has a slightly different meaning. I loved this particular definition:
“to make a group of people move to where you want them to go, especially in a kind, helpful and careful way.”
Now we’re not just protecting our hearts. We’re being proactive by leading them.
When we shield our hearts, we are careful that we don’t let something harmful touch them. We shouldn’t come close to some situations if we want to guard our hearts. Sometimes we learn that there are people we should not come close to in order to protect our hearts.
Boundaries can be hard to determine and hard to implement, but our God is a God of boundaries. He cares so much about them that He wrote ten of them in stone.
Psalm 16:6 says, “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
When we struggle to find boundaries to help guard our hearts, we can ask God for help. He will provide the wisdom to discover them and the strength to carry through with them.
The word watch can have several meanings. It can mean being attentive for a period of time and exercising care and caution. When I think about watching over our hearts, I think back on what it was like to watch my children at the playground. I wanted them to have freedom, but I also wanted them to be safe. So, I watched.
The act of guarding our hearts isn’t always some big, overt action. Sometimes it’s more quiet, even seemingly distant. But watching over our hearts is no less important than any other way we protect them. Watching requires a determination to “stay on duty” even when it appears that all is going well.
Restrain is another word that can be used for guarding our hearts. It means to prevent from doing something or keeping limits.
Restraining our hearts is another side to the coin of boundaries. This time the boundaries are ones that we know we should not cross. But just like the other kind of boundaries we talked about, we need wisdom to discover them and strength to carry them out.
Fortunately, Scripture says,
“The one who calls us is faithful, and He will do it.” 1 Thess. 5:24
If there are areas in our lives in which we wonder (or are certain) that we need restraint, we can be assured that we don’t have to do it alone.
Preserve is the last word we’ll unpack. It means to keep alive and intact. Jesus said that He came so that we might have life and experience it to the full––fully alive.
But that doesn’t always look like what we think it might. God’s kingdom is full of paradoxes.
Those who have experienced the deep sorrow that accompanies loss know better than anyone what it means to feel the real hope of heavenly reunions.
Those who have lost every thread of worldly security know what it means to trust God for their needs and, in turn, experience a peace that passes understanding.
Those who have been rejected or abandoned grasp the faithfulness of the Father more than most.
Paradoxes have a purpose, and in the case of preservation, a heart that dies to self is a heart that lives.
Guarding our hearts by preserving our hearts means daily taking up our cross and dying to whatever it is Jesus asks of us.
We’ve focused on the various ways to guard our hearts. Still, our reflection would be incomplete if we didn’t remember why it’s so important.
Everything flows from our hearts!
Spiritual well being
Emotional well being
No aspect of our lives is untouched by our hearts. Guarding our hearts is a daily decision that requires God’s daily help. We can’t do it without Him. But we can ask Him to help us.
Would you pray with me?