The reason “guard your heart” is a by word among young Christians adults today, is because we all have a vague sense we should do it. But on the other hand, most of us cannot articulately explain what it means to guard your heart because it is a multifaceted and multilayered concept. It’s not a process for the faint of heart –guarding our hearts forces us to take responsibility for something that is no longer ours. In many ways, learning to navigate and guard our hearts goes hand in hand with the process of maturity and sanctification.
Our hearts are a bit like a beautiful paintings, we are told guard and treasure. If we look closely at a painting we see that it is not made of one brush stroke but many. Strokes of feelings add color, while discipline draws precise outlines and boundaries for the colors to fall into, grace blends the contrasting colors, while time and experience add a few stains and wrinkles lending maturity, value and beauty to the picture. We will look at many of the brush strokes our hearts individually, but before we get there, it is very important to begin with the foundation or the gateway to our hearts – the canvas.
The canvas is the “why”, the reason we guard our hearts. Without that we are but mere paint spills on disposable paper towels left wondering why ‘guarding our heart’ isn’t working for us.
Proverbs cautions us to “guard our heart, for it is the well spring of life”. Our heart is the center of our life where all joy, and all sin stem from. We are born with sinful hearts, hearts that are bent on doing things our way, hearts that think they know all and know best. But when we give our heart to Jesus the process of sanctification begins. Sanctification is the transition that happens in our hearts (and subsequently our lives) from us being in control of our hearts to handing that control over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesus says to us (His sheep) that “I am the door keeper” in John 10. He becomes the guard at the doorway of our hearts. Please note that guarding your heart does not mean that it is shut up and locked away forever. On the contrary guarding our hearts under the Lordship of Jesus Christ often means our hearts will be opened to more people and more pain. But it will be the pain of sacrificial, sanctified, love – not foolish emotion. Jesus is not a cap over our hearts, but rather a filter which love gets poured through.*
Imagine if you were given a painting worth a million dollars that had a secret map on the back that would lead us to the cure for cancer, and you were asked to watch it for a while, what would you do with it? Oh, and don’t forget that there is a whole slew of people and influences after the painting that want to destroy it, or take it for their personal gain. This painting isn’t just valuable to you and me, but the things written on the heart of that painting, will benefit all of mankind. How seriously would you guard that painting then?
Our hearts are not our own. We have been bought with a price, a price far greater then the price tag of a million dollars. Christ bought our hearts and we in turn “gave our hearts” to Jesus right? Christ the Lord of all Lords gave you back your heart (your painting -His work of art), worth more than any price tag, to safe keep for Him on this earth. One of the reasons we guard our hearts, is that they are not ours anymore to do as we please with, or even feel or think what we want with them. We gave our hearts to Jesus to be Lord of them. We are now not the owners of our hearts but the stewards.
Now picture an art gallery, with your painting hanging on the wall and you are sitting next to it chatting with the visitors as they come by. Jesus is the security guard at the gate (the Gate Keeper), checking people’s bags and entry passes. You and Jesus have a partnership going on, He is owner of the painting and the art gallery, but runs the metal detector at the gate that reads people’s souls and intentions and what they wish intentionally and unintentionally to do to your painting. Some people come to the museum to bring you supplies that enable you to continue painting, some come to be inspired and challenged by your beauty. Others come to try to steal the map on the back of the painting. Still others with no intention of evil will accidentally damage your painting. But even so there are still others who will be there to help you turn ripped canvas into character that adds depth and texture to the landscape.
As the steward of the painting, you have a partnership with the Gate Keeper. The catch of your partnership is this: the Gate Keeper will allow in anyone you give a pass too – regardless of what the metal detector reads. You have the power and ability to give out as many passes into the art gallery as you choose. Only the Gate Keeper however knows the secrets of visitors and the outcome of their visits. In order to guard your painting and the secrets engraved on it you must know the Gate Keeper. Only together can you safely guard the painting and the treasures in it. You must listen to the Gate Keeper’s wisdom, but most importantly His individual heart for YOUR painting*.
Just as the secrets and purpose in painting doesn’t just effect you, neither do your heart and the choices you make in guarding it. The Lord writes things on our hearts that benefit not only us, but also all of mankind.
We guard our hearts because:
- They are not ours, we gave them away, they have been bought with a price and are not our own.
- Each heart has a divine purpose that goes beyond the individual.
- Our heart is the wellspring of all life. (Not just romantic relationships)*
- We have relationship with the Gate Keeper.
- We are stewards of our heart – not owners.
Next week we will look at how to have a relationship with the Gate Keeper and how that plays into more of why we “guard our hearts”.
Can you think of other reasons we guard our hearts?
(Please note: this is not by any means an exhaustive list – nor am I an expert. These are just a few of many points that the Lord has laid on my heart. Spouses, relationships and influences/purposes for life will be addressed further in other posts)
*Will be addressed in more depth further on in the series.
To read Part #1 please click here.