The Bible is full of wisdom about man's heart.
Not the blood-pumping one, the one that controls our emotions, feelings, motivations and reason.
Consider the instructions of Solomon:
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
(Prov. 4:20-27 NIV)
Jesus spoke a number of times about the importance of guarding our heart, including this one:
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
(Luke 6:45 NIV)
Just like Solomon, if there was one piece of advice I could give the GOD-fearing would-be-Christ-follower, it would be to guard your heart.
Why is guarding our heart so important?
- Sin corrupts us from the inside out.
Our heart was created to be pure and holy.
Sin defiles our heart.
While it may be pleasant for a moment, sin is never what is best for us, which is part of what makes it sinful in the first place. GOD's commandments are for our good, always.
- As Jesus said, our thinking, speech and actions reflect what is in our heart.
Fill it up with garbage and sin and garbage and sin will come out.
Fill it up with GOD and He will come out.
- GOD wants our heart more than He wants our obedience.
Make no mistake, He requires both.
But it is the heart that is key.
If GOD has our heart, then His love will conquer our entire being in time.
This is why Jesus began the greatest commandment with, "Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart..." (see Matt. 22:37-39).
From the beginning, GOD has required holiness of His people—not sinless perfection, but holiness.
Grace and mercy, made possible by Jesus' blood, make up the difference.
The apostle Peter wrote:
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Pet. 1:13-16 NIV)
So, what does "guarding our heart" look like?
In short, it means to watch your input sources.
Here's a handful of examples:
- Be careful what you read.
Many of the things we read stick with us.
If you read worldly content, you're going to think more frequently on worldly things.
This shifts our focus off of GOD, which is never a blessing to us.
- Listen to GOD-focused music.
Let's be honest, most of what comes on mainstream radio these days is both stupid and trashy.
Much of it has virtually no message whatsoever, and much of the message it does have is worldly and flesh-centered.
Change your station.
Quit listening to filthy music.
Songs are very easy to get stuck in our head and many of the most catchy songs also have the worst message. And that's very much how sin works. It looks all pretty and fun but in reality it's deadly and enslaving.
- Be careful what you watch.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and this can be a blessing and a curse.
It's like money. Money isn't good or bad; it depends on the purpose its possessor assigns it.
Likewise, TV, movies, Internet, magazines, advertisements, entertainment, sporting events, and on and on may well be blessings to us, but they can also be curses.
It's practically impossible for the average person to force our mind to forget something we recall seeing. This is especially true of the filth that we'd like to forget.
Once you allow something into your mind, you never know what your mind will retain, but it will retain some of it. Make that be a blessing to you instead of a curse.
- Spend time with other Christians.
People influence people.
It's a fact, and no person is exempt from it.
Spend time with those who help make you a better person.
Always focus on the lost souls who need Jesus, but don't neglect the reality that we need people to build us up and serve as healthy influences. Evil companions indeed corrupt good character (see 1 Cor. 15:33).
- Live intentionally.
Make purposeful, well-thought-out decisions on what input sources you allow.
Think long-term. Ask yourself, "Is doing this helping me become more or less like Jesus?" There really is no in between.
Lastly, recall the words of the apostle Paul, and strive to imitate these things:
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Cor. 10:4-5 NIV)