“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established.” – Proverbs 4:23-26 (emphasis added)
Guarding our hearts as Christians is extremely important. To guard your heart essentially means to guard your inner being- your mind, thoughts, feelings, and desires. The Bible tells us that just as water reflects a man’s face, so does the heart reflect the man (Proverbs 27:19). There are many who can act like a “good person” on the outside, but on the inside they are rotten with sin. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were like this, and Jesus had some harsh words for them:
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Matthew 23:25-28 (emphasis added)
God does not judge by outward appearances; He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus compared those who only act righteous on the outside to a cup that appears clean on the outside but is actually filthy on the inside. He tells them to first clean the inside of the cup, that the outside may also be clean. If we attempt to act righteous only on the outside and don’t cleanse and guard the inside, we will be no better than the Pharisees.
Just as different diseases can affect the physical heart, many things can infect our spiritual heart and cause complications in our walk with Christ. What we allow ourselves to think about, see, and spend time on will affect everything in our lives; it will influence the way we feel about things and impact the decisions we make.
What comes out of our hearts is what defiles us:
- “And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Mark 7:20-23
Each and every one of us are wicked and sinful by nature; our hearts are described as “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9) . Even when we are in Christ, we will still never be completely without sin while on earth:
- “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” – Proverbs 20:9
- “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20
- “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;” – Romans 3:10
- “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8
We are all sinners with deceitful and sick hearts, and that’s why Jesus died for us that we may have freedom from sin and death. We can’t cleanse our hearts on our own; He is the one who cleanses our hearts (Ezekiel 26:36). And while we ultimately are not the ones who truly cleanse our hearts, we do bear some responsibility on how well we choose to guard our hearts. As born-again Christians we can still make decisions that damage our spiritual health, especially when we live in a world that is rampant with sin and temptations of all sorts.
Here are 5 ways to guard your heart according to God’s Word.
5 Ways to Guard Your Heart
1. Put Away Deceitful & Devious Speech
- “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious speech far from you.” – Proverbs 4:24
- “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29
- “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:26
The first step Solomon listed in Proverbs is to put away deceitful and devious speech. Instead of lying or tearing others down, let’s build one another up. Many women (and men) can fall into the cycle of gossip and putting others down out of their own insecurities or simply just to talk. As women of God, we should not be gossiping about or bullying our fellow sisters (or brothers). We should aim to speak life to one another, not death. We should encourage others and show them Christ-like love.
- “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” – Colossians 3:12-14
2. Keep Your Eyes Forward
- “Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established.” – Proverbs 4:25-26
- “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14
There are a few things that I think of from these verses:
- Look to God; let Him be your guide. Focus on Him.
- Keep your eyes Heavenward.
- Keep guard over the path you’re taking.
These verses remind me not only to keep my priorities straight and focus on Jesus, but also to be weary of who and what I’m allowing in my life.
Keep Focused on Him
Life can get super hectic and often distracts us from what’s really important. Your career, your house, your car, your social life, and even your hobbies can become idolatrous if you’re not careful. We are to love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul (Matthew 22:37). Keep Him on the throne of your heart. Nothing is more crucial to have in the center of our lives than Jesus. If we don’t have Him, we don’t have anything at all. He is everything!
- “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 (emphasis added)
- “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18
Be Wise & Watch Your Path
In Christ, we are on a narrow path towards Heaven. However there are many things in life that will try to cause us to deviate and stumble. These can be in the form of spiritual attacks, but they often happen as a result of the things & people we let in our lives. Who we choose to spend our time with and what we allow to take up space in our hearts can either strengthen us or be deadly like poison. Choose wisely!
- “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20
- “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
3. Be Mindful of What You See
- “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” – Matthew 6:22-23
- “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” – Matthew 5:29
- “I will set no vile thing before my eyes.” – Psalm 101:3a
- “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” – Psalm 119:37
One way to guard our hearts is to guard our eyes. When we view good things, it will encourage us to do good. If we watch wicked things, it can encourage us to sin (e.g. watching sexual content can influence you to imitate what you’ve watched, TV shows with a lot of cussing can influence you to cuss). Jesus tells us that if our eyes cause us to sin, it’d be better to rip it out rather than to continue sinning. That’s pretty serious! Now, I don’t think Jesus is meaning for us to go and rip out our eyes. Rather, the point of this passage is to get us to understand just how serious sin is, and how seriously we should be taking it. Sin is not a light matter; He suffered and died to set us free from it!
We should strive to be like David, who made the commitment to “set no vile thing” before his eyes. We can’t avoid seeing every sinful thing in the world, but we should definitely not be purposely looking at things that can possibly cause us to stumble. We can’t successfully guard our hearts if we constantly, willfully look upon & fill our minds with sinful things; that’s like smothering bacteria into a wound, never allowing it to be fully cleansed and healed. You truly have to be careful these days- TV, the internet, and social media especially can be full of toxic material that isn’t good for your spirit. Be wise & guard your eyes.
- “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:21
4. Be Careful What You Hear
“Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.
Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.
For the Father up above is looking down in love.
Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.“
While there are no Bible verses about cutting off your hears if they cause you to sin, the same kind of concept goes for what we choose to listen to. What we choose to listen to can be just as influencing as what we choose to watch with our eyes. What do you listen to? The music industry is filled with all sorts of music that is poisonous for the soul- music that glorifies immoral sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, etc. Do you allow yourself to listen to such things?
Whatever you choose to listen to, ask yourself this question: are you feeding your flesh (fueling your sinful nature) or are you feeding your spirit? Does what you allow yourself to listen to encourage you to sin? If so, it’s best that you cut it out of your life. Feed your spirit, starve the flesh (sinful nature)!
5. Prayer & Filling Your Mind with God’s Word
- “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” – Psalm 1:2-3
- “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” – Psalm 119:9
- “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” – Psalm 119:11
- “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” – John 17:17
Staying in God’s Word is absolutely vital to our growth and maturity as a followers of Christ. His Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). Reading the Bible will help you to be like a tree that is firmly planted, a tree that yields fruit and does not wither, just as Psalm 1 says. His Word gives us strength, guidance, encouragement, and wisdom. It sanctifies us and trains us to become more Christ-like; it is our manual for life. God uses His Word to speak to us, guide us, teach us, and remind us of different things in times of need. We can count on His Words; they are true and will never pass away (Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 24:35). Filling your mind with God’s Word will guard your heart and your mind, and so will prayer:
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
- “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
Praying is an often underrated aspect of the Christian walk; it is truly just as important as reading your Bible. Prayer is our communication God; it keeps us close to Him. It strengthens us against temptations and other trials in life. Prayer and time spent with God builds up our faith and renews our spirit. I know that the days I don’t make a point to pray, I almost always end up feeling weaker spiritually and more vulnerable to fall prey to sin. Reading God’s Word and prayer are key to guarding your heart and strengthening your walk with Him!
More Bible Verses to Study
- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
- “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
- “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:33-34
- “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:8
- “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5
- “With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments!” – Psalm 119:10
- “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” – Hebrews 10:22
- “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22
- “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
- “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2
- “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1
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