Guard your heart more than anything else,
because the source of your life flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 4:20-27 GW)
It's been said, "the eyes are the windows to the soul." This is a popular version of similar expressions throughout history. A person's eyes are a truer indication of the state of their soul than their facial expression and words.
In this case, the eyes are windows for others to look inside another person—into their soul, their heart. A person can wear a smile on their face while trying to cover the grief within them that's seen in their eyes.
On the other hand, the eyes are also the gateway of our perception of the world around us—what we take in that enters our mind and heart, our very soul.
Jesus said that if a person's eye was healthy and took in what was good (light), then their heart would be filled with what is healthy and good (Matt 6:22-24). But if they take in darkness—what is unhealthy—their heart will be filled with unhealthy and dark influences.
This is the reason for the admonition to "guard your heart..." (Prov 4:23). It reminds me of the children's song that goes, "be careful little eyes what you see...." The warning in that song is suitable for all ages. We all need to watch what we observe and take in.
One obvious connection is to what we take in via gaming, news and other media, music, movies, or online. When we feed on unhealthy, dark things—gossip, hate, immorality, porn, rancorous strife, or violence to name a few—our heart is filled with these same influences.
A simple way of knowing what influences and impacts us is to observe what comes out of our mouths. As Jesus said in another place, "Your mouth says what comes from inside you" (Matt 12:34 GW).
But how can we guard our hearts?
The fuller context of this verse (Prov 4:20-27) gives clear insight into how we can guard our hearts. It requires both internal and external disciplines.
Verses 20-22 speak of the internal disciplines that need to be kept "deep within your heart." This is the truth of God and godly wisdom, what is found throughout the book of Proverbs and the Bible as a whole.
These will become life and healing for the whole body. God's truth and wisdom promote wholeness to a person's soul, mind, and body—a powerful influence for good.
The external disciplines are found in verses 24-27. These verses speak of what we take into our hearts and the actions we take—what direction we take with our daily life.
We need to discipline ourselves regarding what we take into our hearts and minds and how we live based on our internal values—what is stored in our heart.
But keep first things first. Our internal disciplines need to guide our external disciplines. Otherwise, the external disciplines will develop into a form of legalistic self-righteousness, which will not guard the heart but harden it with self-deceptive pride.
So, guard your heart since your source of life flows from what's inside it.
God's truth and wisdom promote wholeness to a person's soul, mind, and body, and are a powerful influence for good. What are you storing in your heart?
Developing internal and external disciplines for our life is a continuing process that requires honest and personal intimacy with God in prayer. So, ask God to prepare you for each day and to guide you through each day.
Years ago, I developed a group of verses to help me guard my heart. If you'd like a printable copy of it, you can download it here— Guard Your Heart
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