I am really struggling lately and everywhere I turn I hear “guard your heart,” but I don’t feel like I really know what that means. I want to just shut my heart down so it won’t hurt anymore, but I know that isn’t what God is calling me to do. HELP! Any guidance would be appreciated!
This is such a great question, S, and it is so important to get our heart around it to truly be living the abundant life God calls us to! Thank you for reaching out!
So….What does it really mean to “guard your heart?”
I keep coming back to the same verse: “… and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). There’s so much meat in this verse; but today I want to talk about a particular piece – “guard your hearts.”
It seems to me, the best way to protect ourselves in this world, in relationships, jobs, dreams, or whatever, is to keep our expectations in check.
There are two verses people often quote with regard to guarding one’s heart. The first is Proverbs 4:23. In the NIV it reads “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The King James and the NASB, however, choose a slightly different word than “guard.” NASB says “watch” and KJV says “keep.” And we must remember that in the Hebrew, “heart” actually means far more than the seat of our emotions. It’s our mind, our soul, our inclinations, etc.
When we consider this, and look at the verse in context, it’s not telling us to guard, in the sense of how we might use this word in modern English. It’s not telling us to clamp down, be closed off, walled apart…it’s just telling us to be wise. Solomon is imparting wisdom to his son and is telling him to remember his words, embed them in his heart and try to keep himself from going astray. It means that we should pursue the truth of scripture, such as that God loves us, is trustworthy, and is for our good, so that we make wise decisions. I don’t believe it means we’re to tense up in self-protection…. But that is what we tend to do, isn’t it?
If we only consider this first verse, we might be inclined to actually forget the truth of God’s ways, His sovereignty, and His love, and take too much into our own hands. We’ll try to desperately control our environment, and every thought and emotion, thinking we’re doing the right thing. We are told to take every thought captive, but here’s where that, in excess, falls apart and ceases to be of God.…
How much angst and stress are you putting into trying to figure out how to guard your heart?
How crazy are you making yourself trying to figure out what to do and not do, so that you won’t get disappointed or disappoint someone else?
That is not God’s will for you. God wants you to trust Him, be in the moment, and seek His wisdom and guidance ALONG the way…not build a fortress around you so you can’t experience anything! Do you realize that if you guard your heart too much…you may actually miss what God has for you? You may entirely sideline His will and plan because you’re too busy protecting yourself. We need to learn to be okay with uncertainty and just go with it, maybe even open our hearts up a little, remembering that God is good no matter which way things go.
This is where we bring in the second verse. Philippians 4:6-7 reads “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.” This is a little different than in the first verse, and they have to be taken together.
Here, it is God’s peace that guards your heart. It is a work of God…not a work of you. God doesn’t want us to live in anxiety and worry. And uncertainty sure causes this, doesn’t it? But instead, God wants us to lay our requests at His feet, thank Him for who He is and what He has already done…and leave it at that, knowing He’ll continue to do good in the future.
We don’t pick it up again. We let the peace of laying it down guard our hearts. This submission is based on that constant insistence that God loves us and is for our good. I’ll say it 1000 times because it IS the most important thing for us to EVER understand. God loves us with an immeasurable love. God loves us so much in fact, that we may not get our way, because He knows better. He will do what is for our good. Pray this deeply into your heart. Confess and release all your fears that are keeping you from this truth in the wholeness of your life. That is where you’ll find peace and how your heart will be guarded in a way that you can experience all God has for you, in wisdom, joy, and grace.
You see…the enemy wants us to miss out on all the good things God has for us by getting us to worry and doubt. Sometimes we need to sit in uncertainty when we want to RUN!!!! But if we run, we will miss God. We will miss what He wants to show us in the situation, things He wants to teach us, ways He wants to bless us, and ways He wants to use us to bless others. God just wants us to believe Him and go with it. He wants us to have the freedom to experience what He has for us without fear. That may mean living in a lot of uncertainty, but don’t wall yourself up to avoid getting hurt. Just be at peace, let God be God, and take it all one day at a time.
Where might you be wrestling with expectations today? Is it a struggle at work? A living situation? A family situation? A relationship that you just don’t know which way it’s going to go?
It’s going to work out exactly as God has planned and it WILL be good, any which way. Just enjoy today. Enjoy God. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the uncertainty with great expectations of what God will do through it. Submit to trusting God, ask Him for discernment in wise actions, and leave the rest to Him. Remember, His ways are not our ways, so we probably won’t be able to figure it out anyway.
AMEN!….. and blessings to you,