What Does it Mean to “Guard Your Heart”?
Text: Proverbs 4:23, 24-27
By: HENRY DAMATIE-IKUKU
Vigilance is defined as the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
Diligence is defined as careful and persistent work or effort.
That’s exactly what God calls us to do with our hearts. We are to pay extra attention to our hearts and watch them closely.
The verse begins with a call to keep your heart with all vigilance. Like a soldier defending his post against attack, you must guard your heart, because your heart is under constant attack. When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone—one in which there are casualties.
In the Old Testament the word “heart” is used more than 800 times, but more than 200 times it deals with one’s thought life, emotions, the wellsprings of life, those things that motivate and mold us. The Bible calls that the heart. I’m calling it the thought life.
Why is keeping your heart important? The heart is the wellspring of life. From it flows the springs of life. Life is an overflowing stream. The flow of the river determines the life, health and strength of the stream.
We typically associate the heart with our emotions. In Scripture, however, the heart represents the mind, the will and the emotions. The heart is the seat of personhood. It is one’s innermost being; the control center of life.
Why is the thought life so important? Why did Solomon tell his son, “above all else, guard your heart; for out of it are the issues of life?” Because the thought life controls the rest of your life.
If you tell me what you think, I’ll tell you who you are and the life you live. What you think is what you are. The thought life controls you. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
Your thoughts—positive, negative, good, or bad—control your attitudes. Your attitudes are the sum total of your thoughts. Your attitudes lead to your actions.
Your Thoughts Control Your Actions
Before you can do a thing you have to think it. Your thoughts lead to attitudes; attitudes lead to actions; actions lead to those achievements. It all begins with the thought life. Your achievements will be the sum total of your thoughts.
This is so fundamental that God destroyed an entire civilization because they had “heart trouble.”
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually before God” (Genesis 6:5).
God said, “The thoughts of their heart are so evil, I’m going to have to destroy them,” and He sent the flood because of the thoughts of men’s hearts. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. We’re still having the same problem they had. Do the follow questions give you pause for the condition of the heart?
What lies do I believe about myself or the world around me, and how is that affecting my relationship with God?
What sins or bad habits in my life are weighing me down from a higher moral conduct?
What behaviors or habits do I know to be right, and yet avoid or ignore?
Am I selfishly trying to find physical or emotional fulfillment through my relationships?
How to Guard Your Heart
“Be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
When God gets ready to change someone, how does He do it? By changing how they think. God changes the thought process.
What Solomon said to his son was, “Son, guard, protect, and be careful of your thought life. Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The Lord Jesus Christ wants us to present our bodies to Him, including our minds, that He might transform us. No wonder the devil battles for the mind. How important that we learn to keep our hearts, because a fierce battle is raging for the control of your mind.
When God is in the heart, then we think right, live right, do right. When God is absent, we think wrong, do wrong, live wrong.
Be careful what comes into your mind. You have to think pure thoughts. In this passage Solomon is talking about the sexual affairs of a young man. Solomon is warning his son about having impure, immoral thoughts in his heart and life.
Protect Everything That Comes In
Everything is competing for our time, money, and resources. Just turn on the TV or go anywhere and you’ll quickly be hit with anything and everything that wants your attention. Music, videos, immorality, books, language, power, money, and pride are just some of the many examples.
We need to use wisdom in what we allow into our hearts. We only have a limited time each day to make much of God, so what are we being influenced by, listening to, or looking at?
Train your eyes to look away from lust. Listen to wisdom instead of folly. Protect yourself from harm way and a culture that is anti-God and replace it with things that are Godly. Your heart will then remain protected.
Let me tell you something wonderful. God made you where you can’t think two things at one time. So how do you keep from thinking what’s wrong? Just think what’s right. And if you’re thinking what’s right, you cannot be thinking what’s wrong.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.”
“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Psalm 119:9-11)
How are you going to think pure thoughts? By thinking positive thoughts. Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
“The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Get it in your heart. It has power to cleanse and keep you.
From your thought life and through your thought life God wants to minister to you. A God-controlled thought life will—
Govern your speech (v. 24)
Guard your sight (v. 25)
Guide your steps (v. 27)
If you want to know what is in your heart, just listen to what escapes your mouth. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). As they say in the country, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
When your mind is clear and right with God, when you think the thoughts of Christ after Him, when you have the mind of Christ, when you’re being transformed by the word of God and the power of God and the Spirit of God in your thought life, then you’re going to be doing the will of God.
God has a plan for you, a wonderful plan. The book of Proverbs shows you His plan for having health, wealth, and wisdom. It begins in your thought life.
You carry the name of Christ on your forehead and shoulders, once you say you are a Christian. ‘Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Keep your heart useful. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea, because waters flow into it from the Jordan River, but nothing flows out. There must be inflow and outlet to sustain life. Guard the flow of your heart coming and going. As the truth, love, and grace of God flow in, obedience, service and generosity should flow out. Be a river, not a reservoir. Pour into the lives of others from the overflow of the Lord’s goodness to you.