Heart Problems … Guarding Our Heart

We've all heard the term, "hard-head or hard-headed", and some of us resemble that at times.  The heart and head are separated by 18 inches.  Whatever lodges in our mind will often find its way to our hearts.  Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, GUARD your HEART for it is the wellspring of life."  The NLT says, "for it determines the course of your life."

Society considers the brain / intellect to be the center or essence of man, yet the Bible speaks of the heart being the center of man.  God created us at a triune being, just as God is presented as a trinity in the Bible.  We are a SPIRIT, have a soul (mind, will and emotions) and live in a body. There is close relationship between the spirit of a person and the heart of the person.  We could often interchange the word heart and spirit and be in alignment with the Bible.

Some scriptural examples of heart include: Psalms 51: 10 "Create in me a clean HEART, O God; and renew a right SPIRIT within me."
Proverbs 3: 5 "Trust in the Lord with all of your HEART."   Proverbs 17: 22 "A MERRY HEART doeth good like a medicine..."
Proverbs 15: 13 "A HAPPY HEART makes the face cheerful."   Matthew 5: 8 "Blessed are the PURE in HEART, for they shall see God."
Matt 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain EVIL thoughts in your HEARTS?"
Heb 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the THOUGHTS and ATTITUDES of the HEART."

The Bible lists various types or CONDITIONS of the heart.  Glad hearts, the loving heart, the fearful heart, the angry heart, the repentant heart, the anxious heart, the revived heart, the grieving heart, the troubled heart and the HARDENED heart, etc.

Three key terms I want to focus on.  ABOVE ALL ELSE...  Since the heart is the essence of who we are, the Bible speaks to the PRIORITY of guarding our heart.  It's one of the most important things we can do.  

Above ALL Else - The Priority of Guarding Our Heart

Second, WHY?  The heart is the SOURCE of our relationship with the Lord. It's the major factor that determines the course or path of our life.  It's the engine of my life.  It's the vault that holds the treasures of my life. It's the chip that powers our computer. If our heart becomes hardened, calloused, etc., we'll miss God's direction for our life.

Like babies, we constantly guard what they put in their mouth. How many of us have swallowed parts of crayon, bugs, dirt, etc. We often have to child-proof our house when our grandchildren come.  If we could be as careful about what we allow into our hearts, as we are with our bodies, how much healthier would we be in the spiritual and emotional realm.  With the COVID challenge, how many times a day do we use hand sanitizer or use Clorox wipes in our vehicles and house.  WHY? We're trying to guard ourselves from the germs of the flu.  How do you get a fearful heart?   Do you know someone with a hardened heart? Do you know of know someone who has a deceitful heart? Do you know someone who has a courageous heart?  Do you know someone who has an angry heart?  That didn't just happen.  It occurred over a period of time.

Thirdly - HOW can we GUARD our hearts?  It begins with a Quality DECISION to guard, or CONTROL our THOUGHTS. Our minds can become a filter to keep the bad, fearful or evil thoughts from entering our heart. It requires a quality decision.  Like the sign in a jewelry store window - a box of candy means friendship, a bunch of flowers means love, but a diamond means business.

Controlling our thoughts ... what we DWELL on. What we meditate on can be either positive or negative, constructive or destructive.  Some ask, "What is meditation?"  Question - what have you been worrying about during the past few months? That is meditation on the negative.  Joshua 1:8 "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Whatever we entertain in our thought life will eventually find its way to our heart.  We can't control every thought that comes to our mind, but we can control what stays there.  Martin Luther said, "I can't keep the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building a nest in my hair."

Martin Luther said, "I can't keep the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building a nest in my hair."

"As a man thinketh in his HEART, so is he" Proverbs 23:7.  We're reminded why we need to renew our minds with God's Word (Romans 12:2) or else we'll remain conformed to this world, instead of being transformed.  The only thing powerful enough to cleanse our minds and hearts from our past is the truth of the Word.

Application to our daily life? None of us want to have hard-hearted heart.  How do we become hard-hearted?  One way is to become bitter. Bitterness is unforgiveness that has graduated.  Hebrews 12:15 says, "See to it that no one MISSES the grace of God and that no BITTER root grows up to cause trouble and defiles many." Everyone has been offended or hurt in life.  The question isn't, will we experience hurts, the real question is ... will we choose to forgive, or choose not to forgive?  How often do we miss the grace of God, by not forgiving?  How often have we allowed our heart to become bitter? We've all been down that road, haven't we?  The choice not to forgive leads us into a bondage that is described at bitterness.  How many besides me has experienced some type of bondage because we didn't guard our heart?  

None of us want a self-righteous heart that can lead us to become like a Pharisee.  We begin to trust in our actions, instead of God's mercy and love manifested toward us. That spirit often looks down on others with a spirit that says we're better than them. We become self-righteous.  Several years ago, I was visiting one of our friends from church in a St. Louis hospital. In casual conversation, I discovered that her roommate was a believer and attended an evangelical church.  She told me that she had been in the hospital twice previously with the same physical challenges that required surgery.  She also said, "I don’t know WHY I have to be in the hospital and go through surgery.  This can't be God's will." She checked out of the hospital on both occasions prior to surgery against her doctor's wishes. As we prayed with our friend, we also included her roommate. A few days later I returned to visit our friend after her surgery and discovered the same roommate was still there. During our visit, I said to our friends' roommate, "You asked WHY you had to be in the hospital. I believe the Holy Spirit gave me a word for you and I’m not sure I should share it, as you might be offended."  She than said something like, no I won’t be offended, please tell me.  The gist of our conversation… In your church do you practice laying hands on the sick and praying for them?  She said, "Yes, we do and I'm one of the leaders that prays for them." I followed with, "Is it possible that your attitude borders on something similar to ... if they only had my faith, they wouldn't be sick, or they wouldn't have to go in the hospital?  Is it possible that your judgmental or self-righteous spirit needs correcting? After you're discharged and return home, do you think you will have a more compassionate heart toward those you pray for?"  Wow! It got quiet in the room. After several awkward moments, she said, "Yes."  The danger of pride can lead any of us to allow the enemy a foothold in our hearts, that left unchecked will mature into a stronghold.

Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, GUARD your HEART for it is the wellspring of life." WHY the priority? It's the source or our relationship with the Lord.

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