Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

Hello all! Welcome to the second part of the Having a Heart of Gold series! In this mini-series, we’ve been looking at having a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. Last week, we talked about why following your heart may not always be the best answer. (If you haven’t read that post yet, you can check it out by clicking here!) This week, we’re talking about guarding your heart—what does that even mean? And why does it matter? Keep reading to find out!

You've probably heard about "guarding your heart" in the context of dating. But have you ever thought of guarding your heart in other areas of life? Why is guarding our hearts so important? In this post, I explain why it's important and give you some practical tips to guard your heart and bring you closer to God!

Usually when someone tells you to “guard your heart,” when your thirteen, they basically mean don’t get too attached to a boy until you’re ready to date. But we all should be guarding our hearts in some way for the rest of our lives.

What do I mean when I say “guard” your heart? Webster’s Dictionary defines guard as this:

a state in which someone is carefully looking for possible danger, threats, problems, etc.

From this, I would define guarding your heart in the Christian context as looking for any possible threats to your heart—temptations, envy, anger, gossip, etc. So why is guarding your heart important?

The Bible gives a really good–and simple–reason in Proverbs 4 (ESV):

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

Other versions say to “guard” your heart, for “everything you do” flows from it. As discussed in the first part of this series, our heart affects everything we do. Our emotions, thoughts, and actions all originate in the heart. It’s such an integral part of our being that we can’t afford to leave it be. When our heart is wise, it is evident in every area of our lives:

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. (Ecc. 10:2 – 3)

So how can we guard our hearts? There are definitely things we need to guard our hearts from…but how do we do that?

Ask God to create a new heart in you.

When we try to become wise, we become our own kinda wise–which is really foolishness to God. On our own, we can’t guard our hearts. That would be like trying to create weapons out of trees and branches against Satan’s nuclear weapons–it just won’t work.

However, when we ask God for His heart, He gives us just that–the super-tough Satan-proof stuff. We have new desires and new thoughts. When you ask Him to, He will give you the strength to resist Satan.

Ask God to show you areas that are attacking your heart.

Unfortunately, we often have a hard time seeing beyond ourselves. It doesn’t usually go well when we’re all courageous and say, “Temptation? Pfff…I got this.” Yeah…notsomuch. But when we ask God to specifically point out the areas of our lives that maybe aren’t actually turning us toward Him, He will gently convict (or two-by-four-over-the-head convict) you of things that are actually attacking your relationship with Him. Are there people in your life who are pulling you away from Christ? Are there things distracting you from spending time with God? Do you have any desires that are pulling you from Christ?

Make the (uber-tough) decision to put those things aside.

…And if need be, actively pray against them. We are fighting a war here. Christianity isn’t a feel-good philosophy to get us through life and make us moral people. It’s a battle against evil with the promised victory of eternal life. Things won’t change just because you want them to. Prayer is required–regular, sincere, battle-worthy prayer. As you pray against those things pulling you from God, also concentrate on the things that encourage your walk with Christ and build God’s armor around yourself. A heart of good character won’t just happen, but it will become stronger as you build into it.

As you go into this week, allow me to challenge you to find one thing that you need to guard against. Ask God to help you to guard your heart, and be willing to make life changes to become closer to His.

Are there things in your life that threaten your heart-armor?

How do you overcome these things?

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life (you’re reading it now!)
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Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?

Hello all! Welcome to the first week of the Having a Heart of Gold series! Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at what it means to have a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. This week, we’re talking about why following your heart may not be the answer to life’s tough decisions. So grab an iced coffee & your favourite throw blanket (if you’re an iced-coffee-and-cute-throw kinda person) and read on!

The world says "Just follow your heart," -- but is this really a good idea? How do we stay "true to ourselves" and yet follow God's leading at the same time? Does God care about our desires? Click here to read more!

So…the heart. It’s a simple enough concept, yet ask any three people what the heart is, and you’ll get a variety of answers. A muscle that runs the whole body. A bit of your mind, soul, and body all wrapped into one. Your capacity to love and be loved and build relationships. There are so many different things that the heart is. In reality, all these are true. The heart is complex and capable of hundreds of emotions, desires, and thoughts, and is significant in every part of life.

If the heart is so many things, what does it mean to follow your heart? When I hear people say this or apply it to a situation, I usually understand it to mean following your “true desires” or dreams. To be honest, I think that the phrase “Just follow your heart!” is a very dangerous one. But before you decide that I am totally uptight & nuts-o, please hear me out.

Here’s my type-A, eldest-child logic. We are not perfect, right? In fact, we’re flat-out sinful creatures, born with the strong tendency to want to disobey God. Correct? So why do we think that following our own heart is always the right move? How can we trust our emotions and desires when we are inherently sinful?

The heart is no exception to our self-serving nature. Jeremiah had strong words about the heart. Chapter 17, verse 9 says this:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

God is not satisfied with the situation of our hearts. In fact, when we become Christians, God gives us a new heart. In Ezekiel 36, He promises us this:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

If the Bible is so clear about the condition of our heart before Christ, and God’s desire to change our heart, why do we think it’s a good idea to blindly follow the desires of our hearts? If we want to make the right decision, should we not seek  to follow the heart of the One who is perfect and true and in Whom there is no fault?

When we follow our hearts, we are following our emotions that are happening right now, in the present moment. This is dangerous because emotions change, and they are not reality. God warns us against allowing emotions to rule our lives. In Proverbs, fools are people who speak based on their emotions and act on how they feel. When we follow our feelings, we simply aren’t being wise.

The truth is this: when we choose to follow our hearts, we are choosing our own desires above God. Click To Tweet

Am I saying you should completely ignore your heart? Nope! God gave us our hearts and the desires that go with them for a reason. He made us with free will, and we should not deny or ignore the things He puts in our hearts. God works through our hearts to accomplish His purpose (I’ll come back to this later).

God knows the desires of our hearts; whether it’s a certain job you’ve always wanted, an opportunity that seems to good to pass up, or even a lifestyle choice such as marriage. He knows. God doesn’t think our desires are petty or insignificant. He takes each one of our desires seriously. In Psalm 37, He even gives us this promise:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.

God does not want us to be joy-less all our lives. He wants to fill our desires. But there’s a catch.

Yes, God loves us and wants us to be filled with His joy (notice I didn’t say “He wants us to be happy”?). But first, we must delight ourselves in Him. That means that He is first, and we do His will and are obedient to Him first. Then, and only then, will He give us the desires we have. In Matthew 6:32 & 33, He gives us this promise:

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The reality is that as we focus on God and seek His will, our desires will start to align with His. There will be desires that you thought were very real; yet when you start to focus on what God wants for you rather than what you want, you find that those things weren’t as important as you thought or they weren’t real desires.

On the other hand, desires you didn’t know you had will come to light and plant themselves deep in your soul. You may become passionate about things you didn’t know you cared about, and God will start to do amazing things through you.

When we start to seek the will of God rather than our longing, we become closer to Him and our whole life becomes re-prioritized. God changes our hearts and works in us to complete His will and fulfill us.

We will never be truly satisfied until we refocus on Christ. Click To Tweet

God may also ask for us to give Him a desire of ours. And it may totally suck. Sometimes, He takes that longing and says, “My child, you think you want this. But I know that it will not truly fulfill you, and I have something much better planned. Will you trust Me?” Other times, He asks for it only for a time and gives it back later. He asks us to trust Him. And in return…He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea? (you’re reading it now!)
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of the desires of your heart?

How are you giving that desire to God?

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