Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
― Proverbs 4:23
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
― Psalm 51:10
Your heart is sacred land. Don’t let just anything enter it. Guard it with your life.
― Yasmin Mogahed
Guard your heart and mind against double-minded pretentious beings.
Do not allow infiltration beyond the surface. If their influence travels
on the inside, they become like an incurable disease.
― Amaka Imani Nkosazana
You must guard your heart while you’re here. Failure to do so leads to a life of self-destruction and allows others to be destructive to you as well.
Guarding you heart is typically thought of as guarding your emotions, but it is so much more than that. Guarding your heart means guarding everything about you—your body, soul, and spirit – everything that makes you a human being.
Let me explain.
Guarding your heart means guarding your body from anything or anyone who would cause it harm.
You’re guarding your heart when you take good care of your body by eating right, exercising regularly, and avoiding unhealthy physical risks like running out into traffic without looking both ways.
You’re also guarding your heart when you don’t allow others to harm your body by being physically abusive.
Guarding your heart means guarding your soul from anything or anyone who would cause it harm. Your soul is comprised of your mind, will, and emotions (although they are so intertwined that it is artificial to pull them apart too much), so you’re guarding your heart when you protect these three from harm.
Let me tell you what I mean.
You’re guarding your heart when you guard your mind from thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that are false, worthless, impure, and ugly. This is why the Bible says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
You’re guarding your heart when you guard your emotions from the toxic, life-destroying feelings we can have, like feeling bitter, resentful, contempt, and rage. That’s why the Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
At the same time, you’re guarding your heart when you allow yourself to feel the healthy emotions, whether they be pleasurable (happy, content, joyful, peaceful) or painful (sad, angry, hurt, guilty).
You’re guarding your heart when you guard your will by choosing to act wisely and morally and choosing not to act foolishly or immorally.
What the Bible calls our “flesh” is a reference to our fallen, sinful bent toward sin (a word that isn’t used very much these days although it still applies), and anytime you ask God to empower you by His grace to not willfully indulge your sinful desires, you’re guarding your heart.
This is why the Bible says to “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16). Guarding your heart means deciding who you are going to follow spiritually, the God of light or the god of darkness.
Bob Dylan, songwriter extraordinaire from Pop’s generation (look him up), wrote a song called, Gotta Serve Somebody. The chorus to the song goes:
“But you’re going to have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re going to have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re going to have to serve somebody.”
Bob Dylan was right. Everyone serves somebody, it’s just a matter of who.
The Bible agrees, which is why Joshua challenged Israel in the Old Testament, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Pop deeply believes that who you decide to follow spiritually is the single most important decision you will ever make in life.
Get this decision wrong and you will do more damage to your heart than you can imagine. I don’t say this to scare you but to warn you. And, I don’t say it to imply those who chose to follow God don’t fall into the same sinful self-destructive and other-person-destructive ways of acting. Believing in God is no guarantee that you are going to properly guard your heart or behave yourself as a human being.
I want to say one other thing about guarding your heart, something I’ve talked about before in this book. Guard your heart by being careful who you hang around with. Bad company corrupts good morals, and you are leaving your heart unprotected if you decide to hang around people who are self-absorbed (narcissistic) and anti-authority (sociopathic).
You’re not guarding your heart if you hang around people who couldn’t care less if they damage your physical, psychological, and spiritual self. Have nothing to do with such people.
Henry Cloud was right to say, “Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it. They help us to ‘guard our heart with all diligence.’ We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside.”
Munchkins, I’m sure you’re beginning to understand that guarding your heart is a multifaceted and difficult thing.
It means guarding your body, soul (mind, will, and emotions), and spirit (who you are going to follow), and it means guarding against being around bad company.
As with everything else in this book of advice, this is all easier said than done. But, please do it. You will always be glad you guarded your heart while you were here given that it is the “wellspring” of life and will enable you to experience life in full.