Growing up in the church, I heard the phrase “Guard your heart!” tossed around frequently. I was sure it was good advice, but I wasn’t always exactly sure what it meant.
As a teenager, I thought guarding your heart just meant staying pure and saving yourself for marriage. What better way to guard your heart than that?, I thought. If you don’t get too physical, surely your heart can’t be given away or broken.
I also thought maybe guarding your heart meant being extra careful about what you watched and listened to. Trashy TV shows? Just turn the channel. Songs with swearing? Avoid at all costs. Pictures showing too much skin? Look away.
Those may all seem like pretty simplified definitions of guarding your heart, and they are. These methods also, I have learned, are not 100% guaranteed to protect your heart.
I did follow all of the approaches above, and I still got my heart broken. And I know others who did, too.
Do I think that means each of those methods should be abandoned? Absolutely not. They may not ensure a shatterproof heart or a life completely free of trouble, but they’re still safeguards. They still help. They’re still wise to follow, and they’re even Biblical.
But as I got older, I began to wonder…what exactly does guard your heart? What was I missing?
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”Proverbs 4:23
I knew the Bible commanded it in Proverbs 4:23, but I wasn’t sure what else I could do to actually live out my obedience to that command.
One day a few years ago, I was reading a book (I wish I could remember which one it was, but it escapes me) and I had a revelation. The author compared Proverbs 4:23 side-by-side with Philippians 4:7, and understanding flipped on like a light bulb, flooding my brain with enlightenment.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:7
PEACE! That’s the key!
It says it right there in Scripture and I’d even memorized it, but I’d missed it all those years. Peace is what guards your heart.
When you feel that unmistakable peace about a decision you’re about to make, you’re on the right track. You can move forward in obedience.
But when you notice that feeling of peace missing in any way, stop and ask yourself why it’s not there. You’re probably about to do something that’s not good for you. Your feelings and instincts are cluing you in (more specifically, the Holy Spirit is cluing you in!); you just need to listen to what they’re telling you.
As I’ve said before, if you don’t have peace about something, don’t do it. If you have peace, proceed.
This doesn’t just apply to relationships, although it certainly applies there. Pursue peace in your dating relationships and in your marriage. Pursue peace in your friendships, when you’re deciding who to hang out with and how much of your calendar they get to fill. Additionally, pursue peace in your job hunt, in your budget, and in your health. No matter what area of your life you’re making decisions in, you can protect your heart by choosing the option that brings you that warm, reassuring feeling of peace deep inside. If you don’t have it, you need to look at your options again and find the one that gives you peace.
As it turns out, all along, the way to guard my heart was even simpler than I could have imagined. Pursue peace. That’s it!
Every other method is helpful, but it all still falls under the peace category. When you wait until that feeling of peace finally fills you, you know you’re in the right place.
Pursue peace in every decision you face. It won’t let you down.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”