“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
So says Solomon, purportedly the wisest man to ever live and the author of 3,000+ proverbs (this one is found in the Bible book of Proverbs – 4:23).
I read this and wondered several things:
- What is the “heart”?
- How does one “guard” it?
- How does this action determine your/my future.
I spent some time in further reading and reflection and needed to write out some of what came to mind.
Literally it is the organ that pumps blood throughout the body. If/when it stops working we stop living.
Metaphorically it is the essence of who you are. If your heart is not working you are not breathing. No heart = no life.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says this about the term “heart”:
…in its abstract meanings, “heart” became the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature. In biblical literature it is the most frequently used term for man’s immaterial personality functions as well as the most inclusive term for them since, in the Bible, virtually every immaterial function of man is attributed to the “heart.”
You get the point… the heart, in it’s metaphorical sense, is who you REALLY are.
How does one “guard” the heart?
As you read through the Scriptures you see the heart affected by anger, grief, depression, and disappointment. You also see hearts that overflow with joy, anticipation, love, and gratitude.
The heart, the inner-self, is capable of many emotions… many times all in one day! You know as well as I do that some feelings can make you dangerous while others can make you desirable company.
The question is, how do I guard my heart?
Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do know a few things that will help to guard the heart:
- Forgiveness reduces the chance of bitterness and anger.
- Smiling increases the chance of joy and likability.
- Gossip reduces the chance of genuine, healthy friendships.
- Encouragement increases the likelihood of meaningful interactions.
- Dishonesty, greed, anger, laziness, selfishness, pride, etc. all of these will take you to a place of loneliness and disappointment. While on the other hand…
- Honesty, mercy, hard work, humility, self-control, etc. will take you to a desirable future.
It really comes down to this… I guard or abandon my heart with the decisions I make every day.
When I choose to post gossip, tweet anger, lie, lust, or refuse to share… I make the decision to become a gossip, angry man, liar, lustful jerk, selfish man.
Likewise, when I choose to smile, work hard, think, and tell the truth… I make the decision to become a happy, prosperous, thoughtful, and honest man.
In other words… I become on the outside what I decide to do on the inside!
How does this action determine my future?
An angry man today makes a reputation for himself… as an angry man.
An honest man today makes a reputation for himself… as an honest man.
See, what you do today shapes what you believe about yourself and what you believe about yourself becomes your reality!
You are what your heart says you are, and that’s why it’s so important to guard your heart!
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)