The Stronghold

On guarding one's heart

Fri Aug 27, 10 11:12 am

I think that lone verse in Proverbs about guarding one's heart is far over-used, in the too-narrow application of romantic love.

Prov 4:23
NIV: Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

ESV: Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.

KJV: Keep thy heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.

Plenty of chapters in Proverbs provide no context, and thus might be harder to interpret in specific application, as they are simply a collection of wise sayings. This one has a little, though, being framed as a father speaking wise counsel to his son. Yet it's funny how this verse gets quoted in teaching to girls more than any other it seems. Not that it has no application to young women, I'm just sayin...

The key though, here, is defining 'heart'. Looking at other uses of this same word, it's not simply the seat of feelings, where you get the warmies for somebody romantically. And in this particular instance it's defined as the source of the wellspring of your life. That's a LOT more than just romance, and I wonder how little it actually has to do with romance.

I think a more accurate teaching would stress not the avoidance of pain or keeping others from hurting you or affecting you emotionally, but rather maintaining your heart - your innermost being - in the way of the Lord. Because if you let the world gain control of your heart, what springs from you will not be good.
Matthew 15:18 NIV
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.'

And while you're busy doing your part, you can rest assured God is doing His:
Philippians 4:7 NIV
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Good thoughts.
Lady Rebecca, Fri Aug 27, 10 1:44 pm Post

Great post, Greg!
Sydney Marie, Fri Aug 27, 10 2:12 pm Post

I think you might be on to something there.
Drew Boon (WBE), Fri Aug 27, 10 2:26 pm Post

I once did a talk on these verses for a group of highschool girls. I looked up some of the words in the Hebrew and Greek and this is what they meant:
Heart - feelings, the will, intellect (mind), center of everything.
Keep - guard, protect, preserve
Issues - source

Everything that comes into our life has an effect on our heart. This is why it is so important to guard it - it is the center of everything. Matthew 12:34 "For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."
We may think we're doing well in saving our bodies for our spouses,which is good, but it's not enough. Satan knows that if he can get to our hearts, our actions and words will follow.
What you have to ask yourself is what's in my heart? Who or what is first in my life? What takes up the most of my time? What occupies my thought life?
It all comes down to truly making Christ the Lord over our hearts.
Anyhow, I've rambled long enough! I'm definitely not disagreeing with Greg, just adding a few of my own thoughts. Smile
Melody, Fri Aug 27, 10 6:06 pm Post

Great thoughts, Greg!
Lilybeth, Fri Aug 27, 10 6:24 pm Post

I like this post!

I was just thinking about that verse on yesterday. It made me think about how I cannot bear to watch gory scenes in movies, and if I did condition myself to being able to watch them emotionlessly, I feel like I would turn into a less-caring person. That was my take on it yesterday. Smile
Anna Warnke, Fri Aug 27, 10 9:16 pm Post

I do agree. While the emotional aspect of one's heart should be protected from the untimely sharing of it, there is definitely a forest here comprising many more trees besides the romantic/emotional variety. Smile

And Melody, you are right...every day, we believers wage a battle: will our hearts belong to Christ and love Him first, or are we ursurping His place by something or someone else? We are responsible to guard, and God ever watches over our hearts, for He will have no other god before Himself.
Amiable Amy, Fri Aug 27, 10 9:35 pm Post

Well said! There are a lot of verses like that which people always interpret one way but they really have a deeper meaning and/or oftentimes they have multiple applications Smile
Linnae, Sat Aug 28, 10 7:42 am Post

Great thoughts, Greg and Melody!
Lauren Deanna, Sun Aug 29, 10 5:31 pm Post

Thanks for sharing this Greg! Smile I totally agree with you...
Aunt Kate, Thu Sep 09, 10 8:45 am Post

What would be the aleternative to not guarding your heart in relation to romantic love?

There is a time and a place to guard your heart, and a time and a place not to. Ecc. 3:5 "A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing."

I believe covenant is the dividing line. But I guess you knew that already. Wink
Israel Wayne (OFC), Fri Sep 10, 10 10:49 am Post

Thanks for sharing that Greg! Make me think about it differently then I have in the past. Andy and I were discussing that verse recently. I will have to share this with him.
Beckisue, Mon Sep 20, 10 4:35 pm Post
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