Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Guard Your Heart!

“Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” 
Prov. 4:23

Our heart:  the most important aspect of our walk with God.  From our heart will come the speech and the actions.  If the speech and actions are not in line with God’s will, the focus needs to be on a heart change, and that heart change will produce the change in behavior.  Nothing is more important than our heart, which is why we are admonished to guard it with all diligence.

To guard something means you protect it.  To guard something means that you make sure that what you are guarding stays strong enough to stand up for itself.  To guard something means you provide an impenetrable gate, to keep out those things that could capture your heart and take it away from God.  So, how do we practically guard our heart with all diligence?

1.     Keep your heart growing in Christ by being in the Word and prayer every day.  Your heart is the center of your relationship with God, and this relationship cannot stay strong without regular time in the Word and prayer.  The Word of God feeds the heart and helps it to grow strong.  In addition, to feeding on God’s Word,
2.     Feed your heart things that keep it passionate for God.  Learn what it is that stirs your affections for God.  For some it is a good book, while others it is worship music.  I love to hear stirring messages.  Sometimes a seminar or conference is just what I need to pump my heart up in the Lord.  Build into the rhythm of your life those things that keep your heart in tune with God.
3.     Be sensitive to God speaking to your heart and showing you things that need attention.  Take time to “be still and know that He is God.”  Listen to His “still, small voice” speaking to you.  Respond to whatever He shows you.  Pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, and see if there be any hurtful way in me.”  In doing this, we help to keep our heart tender before God. 

The first three ways of “guarding our heart with all diligence” is an offensive strategy, because the best defense is a strong offense.  The next three are more defensive.

4.     Quickly repent of sin.  Keep short accounts with God by immediately confessing and repenting of sin.  Sin is a cancer cell in our heart.  If allowed to grow, it will destroy us.  Immediately confessing and repenting of sin is like chemotherapy to that cancer cell.  It destroys it and keeps it from growing.  The blood of Jesus is the unfailing chemotherapy of God against sin.
5.     Be willing to remove anything from your life that tends to pull you away from the Lord.  “Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles you” (Hebr. 12:1).  We know we are to lay aside sin, but here we are told to also lay aside anything that can weigh us down from running the race with all diligence. What might that be for you?  Perhaps it is busyness, excess television, social media, hobbies, sports, or shopping.
6.     Say “No” to temptation.  Sin comes knocking at our door.  Guarding your heart is not answering that knock. Flee sin.  Don’t even give a place for temptation.  Remove from your life any and all sources of temptation, be it tv, the internet, movies, certain relationships, etc.  If any of those things bring the devil knocking at your door, then remove them.  Guarding our heart requires radical steps.

Finally, if you find yourself repeatedly struggling in the same area (i.e., pornography, anger, depression, etc.), get help.  Don’t put off going to a counselor, receiving healing prayer, or whatever it takes to get to the root issue.  Your heart is too precious to not be willing to have spiritual, cardiac surgery!

More than ever, we need to be proactive to guard our heart.  If we don’t guard it, no one else will.  So much in our culture today is about self, fun, entertainment, relaxation, and sports.  None of those things are bad per se, but they are very temporal, and can cause our hearts to drift.  Be intentional about guarding your heart with all diligence. And enjoy the fruit that comes from doing this.