Doesn’t the world get noisy at times, loudly shouting out that — burdens are heavy, situations are out of our control, people are demanding what we cannot give, work grows more stressful. Our once peaceful world suddenly spins uncontrollably, and in our heart of hearts, we fear we may fall into the abyss of emotional turmoil where peace will never be found again. Such realizations of our personal worlds crashing in on us can cause sleepless nights, short tempers, feelings of despondency, and self loathing for our weakness in it all. How do we crawl out of this melancholy quicksand of gloom and despair?
God gives us a wonderful gem of help in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” The dictionary definition of guard is: to watch over in order to protect. It stands to reason then, that if our hearts affect everything we do, then, of course, we must watch over it and protect it.
How do we do such a thing? When we guard something, we pay attention to it. Therefore, we must take great care what we put into our hearts. What goes into our hearts, affecting our daily course in life, comes in through the eyes and the ears. We must take care what we let our eyes watch. We must take care what we let our ears hear. In other words, we must pay attention to our habits. For example, if our habit is to feast our eyes upon ungodliness, then our hearts will be filled with everything that is not of God; therefore, everything that is unkind, unlovely, selfish, loathing of others and of ourselves. Despondency is most certain to take control when we leave our hearts unprotected against such darkness.
Equally, in contrast, if our habit is to feast our eyes upon things that are counted as holy, then our hearts are filled with everything that is of God; therefore, everything that is kind, lovely and loving, generous, honoring of others and of ourselves. God’s own inner joy and peace is most certain to take control when we protect our hearts, pouring in the very light of God’s truth.
The attitudes that claim our hearts are results of what we feed it. Remember when Jesus was tempted by Satan himself for forty days in the wilderness? Jesus was tempted with power and riches that all came from the darkness of this world. What did Jesus do? He guarded His heart, knowing better than any of us, that He must protect it in order to stay in the light of His Father’s joy and truth. The story is told in Matthew 4. There, Jesus gives us two instructions on how to guard and protect our hearts. He said in verse 4 that, “People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every Word of God.” Then He said in verse 10, “You must worship the Lord your God; serve only Him.”
What happened when Jesus followed those two instructions? The answer is found in verse 11 where we read, “Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.” The results of guarding and protecting our hearts will be the same for you and for me. The force of evil will have to flee. Oh, that evil will come back another time, trying again to plunge us into the despair of darkness, but the attempt will fail every time, if we follow the instruction to guard our hearts, knowing of a certainty that it affects everything we do.
Yes, the condition of our hearts affects everything we do, everything we say, everything we feel. Let us determine, with God’s own help, to guard our hearts. Let us take careful notice — everyday — upon what we focus, for God’s own Word also says in Philippians 4:7, “His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” May Jesus be our everything. Such a focus, coupled with feasting on God’s own Words, and worshipping Him above all else, will guard and protect our hearts.