Aug 15, 2015
Guard Your Heart
This morning I met with some men who are committed to strengthening each other’s faith in Christ.
We talked about how important it is to guard our hearts, based on Proverbs 4:23 –
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (NIV)
Here is how the ESV translates it —
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Here is what we saw from this verse —
See the Importance of Your Heart
The heart is crucial because it is the wellspring of life, which means that everything you are and do flows from the heart.
So if your heart is worried about money, or jealous towards someone, you should not ignore it.
You should not grit your teeth, pretend that everything is fine, and get on with your day – because your worry or jealousy will flow out of your heart in sinful words, attitudes, and actions.
That’s why we must keep watch over our hearts with all vigilance.
Be Aware of Your Heart Condition
To keep watch over your heart you must be aware of what is happening in your heart. You must notice what you are feeling.
Specifically, you must notice when you are not feeling peace or joy in the Lord, because either of those show a problem with your faith.
They show that there is some promise in God’s word that you are not trusting.
For example, yesterday morning I got an email which caused my heart to fill with fear and worry.
At times like that it’s tempting to say “Don’t be concerned. Everyone worries from time to time. After all, fear is a natural emotion.”
But God’s word says that fear or worry shows that sinful unbelief is growing in my heart (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40). And sinful unbelief is serious.
Imagine that you go to the doctor because of pain in your heart. The doctor takes x-rays, notices a shadow next to your heart, but misinterprets that shadow.
Instead of understanding that this shadow is a dangerous tumor, and removing it surgically, he concludes that this shadow is just a normal part of the heart, and sends you home.
That could cost you your life.
So we must learn to notice what we are feeling in our hearts, and we must understand those feelings biblically.
But that’s not all. It is also crucial to –
Take Steps to Change Your Heart
That’s what the psalmist does in Psalm 42:5 –
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him.
The psalmist is keeping watch over his heart with all vigilance, so he notices that his heart is feeling cast down and in turmoil.
But not only does he notice what he is feeling, he understands these feelings biblically.
The reason I say that is because he calls himself to “hope in God.” In other words, he understands that his discouragement and turmoil show that he is not hoping fully in all of God’s promises.
So he notices what he is feeling, he understands these feelings biblically, and he urges himself to put his hope in God’s promises.
We can’t move from discouragement to hope just by urging ourselves to do so. And the psalmist knows this.
That’s why, in Psalms 42 and 43 (they are connected) —
- he pours out his soul before God, admitting how he is really feeling (Psalm 42:4)
- he prays for God’s light and truth to change his heart (Psalm 43:3-4)
- he reminds himself of God’s past faithfulness (Psalm 42:4, 6-7)
- he assures himself that in spite of his unbelief, God will be merciful (Psalm 42:8, which God can do because Jesus was punished for our sins)
- he meditates on God’s promises (Psalm 42:5, 8, 11; Psalm 43:4,5)
So that’s what I did yesterday morning —
- I poured out my soul before God, admitting how fearful and worried I was
- I asked God for more of his heart-changing power
- I reminded myself of ways God has been faithful in the past
- I assured myself that because of Jesus’ death, God fully forgives and welcomes me (1 John 1:7)
- I meditated on promises that touched on my fear and worry (like Romans 8:28; Psalm 50:15; Jeremiah 29:11)
As I set my heart on who God promised to be, I could feel the Spirit change my heart.
My fear and worry subsided. Peace and joy in Christ grew. My unbelief was overcome.
That’s why it is so important to guard your heart.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- A Christian Counselor Disagrees about Faith and Feelings
- A Gospel-Centered Explanation of Feelings
- Is Joy in God Different from Happiness?
- Is This Why You Don’t Have Joy in the Lord?
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