Proverbs 4:23, a piece of scripture I have heard many times, reads, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
This verse is often quoted when a girl starts dating a guy (or vice versa), but it offers so much more wisdom beyond the realm of dating — so much wisdom, in fact, that I am dedicating a whole blog post to it.
So what does it mean to “guard your heart”? It’s a bit of an enigmatic phrase, but I think it simply means to be careful about what we are consuming and filling our minds with. Careful as in taking care, not hyper-vigilant or overly-cautious.
The “guard your heart” phrase has become a Christian cliché of sorts, specifically in the dating world. We often hear it spoken to young women who get swept off their feet by a boy, and because of her feelings, she throws caution to the wind, opens up her heart to him, and lets him influence her — perhaps too soon. Of course, this happens in reverse as well.
While yes, it is important to guard your heart when you enter a dating relationship, the act of guarding our hearts shows up in many other ways. A prime example is in the media we consume, such as the books we read, the TV shows and movies we watch, and the music we listen to.
Have you ever become emotional after finishing a book? Have you ever watched a TV show that made you feel icky? Has a movie ever made you cry? Have you ever noticed that sad songs make us feel sad?
The media we consume has an effect on us, so we must be wise about what we are consuming and guard our hearts (and eyes and ears and minds) against those things which might lead us astray.
In a Views From the Porch podcast episode titled “Christian Cliches: Guard Your Heart,” the hosts discuss this topic more in depth. One phrase they repeated throughout stuck with me: what you feed is what will grow.
An example given in the podcast is the act of listening to songs about romance. The more we feed ourselves lyrics and melodies that testify to the wonders of being in love, the more we will want a romantic relationship, perhaps becoming discontent in our singleness. I would argue that rom-coms have the exact same effect. Every time I watch one, all I can think about is finding my person one day.
If we are so easily influenced by music, TV shows, movies, books, and even social media, imagine the ways in which our lives would change if we started making conscious efforts to guard our hearts against the things that turn us away from God. Instead of filling our minds with mind-numbing media, what if we filled it with God’s word? Worship music? Christ-centered podcasts?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that as Christians we can’t or shouldn’t enjoy secular media, but I am saying that our actions have consequences, and what we fill our minds with will, by default, effect us in some way, whether good or bad.
So, my friend, what are you filling your mind with? Who are you spending your time with? In what ways are you guarding your heart against the lies of our enemy and in what ways are you letting him in? I encourage you to examine the media you’re consuming, and even the people you spend the majority of your time with, not so that you will feel obligated to be a “better” Christian, but so you may have a deeper, richer, more meaningful, and more fulfilling relationship with Jesus.
As you go into this week, I recommend taking some time to consider your most prominent sources of influence. How are they influencing your heart posture? Do they pull you away from God or draw you nearer? How might they be affecting your words and actions towards others? Towards yourself?
Remember, Solomon says we must guard our hearts above all else because everything we do flows from it. So keep your heart in good health.
I leave you with Philippians 4:4-9:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Grace and peace,