Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil (Proverbs 4:23-27).
How does God intend for us to live? The book of Proverbs beautifully takes practical matters, interweaves the spiritual, and makes life the beautiful thing God wants it to be. When a person knows God and is right with God, they will find they live a perfectly natural, intensely practical, and deeply spiritual life all at the same time. That’s what God intends.
What Does it Mean to "Guard Your Heart"?
In the Old Testament the word “heart” is used more than 800 times, but more than 200 times it deals with one's thought life, emotions, the wellsprings of life, those things that motivate and mold us. The Bible calls that the heart. I’m calling it the thought life.
Why is the thought life so important? Why did Solomon tell his son, “above all else, guard your heart; for out of it are the issues of life?” Because the thought life controls the rest of your life.
If you tell me what you think, I’ll tell you who you are and the life you live. What you think is what you are. The thought life controls you. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
Your thoughts—positive, negative, good, or bad—control your attitudes. Your attitudes are the sum total of your thoughts. Your attitudes lead to your actions.
Your Thoughts Control Your Actions
All good psychologists will tell you that. Someone once said, “Sow a thought, reap a deed. Sow a deed, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Before you can do a thing you have to think it. Your thoughts lead to attitudes; attitudes lead to actions; actions lead to those achievements. It all begins with the thought life. Your achievements will be the sum total of your thoughts.
This is so fundamental that God destroyed an entire civilization because they had “heart trouble.”
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually before God” (Genesis 6:5).
God said, “The thoughts of their heart are so evil, I’m going to have to destroy them,” and He sent the flood because of the thoughts of men’s hearts. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. We’re still having the same problem they had. Do the follow questions give you pause for the condition of the heart?
- What lies do I believe about myself or the world around me, and how is that affecting my relationship with God?
- What sins or bad habits in my life are weighing me down from a higher moral conduct?
- What behaviors or habits do I know to be right, and yet avoid or ignore?
- Am I selfishly trying to find physical or emotional fulfillment through my relationships?
How to Guard Your Heart
“Be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
When God gets ready to change someone, how does He do it? By changing how they think. God changes the thought process.
What Solomon said to his son was, “Son, guard, protect, and be careful of your thought life. Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The Lord Jesus Christ wants us to present our bodies to Him, including our minds, that He might transform us. No wonder the devil battles for the mind. How important that we learn to keep our hearts, because a fierce battle is raging for the control of your mind.
When God is in the heart, then we think right, live right, do right. When God is absent, we think wrong, do wrong, live wrong.
Be careful what comes into your mind. You have to think pure thoughts. Now, a text without a context is a pretext, so context is important. In this passage Solomon is talking about the sexual affairs of a young man. Solomon is warning his son about having impure, immoral thoughts in his heart and life.
Let me tell you something wonderful. God made you where you can’t think two things at one time. So how do you keep from thinking what’s wrong? Just think what’s right. And if you’re thinking what’s right, you cannot be thinking what’s wrong.
It’s another way of saying, “Just load up on My Word. Get My Word into your heart.”
- “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
- “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.”
- “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” (Psalm 119:9-11)
Store up the word of God.
How are you going to think pure thoughts? By thinking positive thoughts. Not thinking about flowers and birds and trees, but the mighty Word of God. “The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Get it in your heart. It has power to cleanse and keep you.
From your thought life and through your thought life God wants to minister to you. A God-controlled thought life will—
- Govern your speech (v. 24)
- Guard your sight (v. 25)
- Guide your steps (v. 27)
If you want to know what is in your heart, just listen to what escapes your mouth. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). As they say in the country, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
When your mind is clear and right with God, when you think the thoughts of Christ after Him, when you have the mind of Christ, when you’re being transformed by the word of God and the power of God and the Spirit of God in your thought life, then you’re going to be doing the will of God.
God has a plan for you, a wonderful plan. The book of Proverbs shows you His plan for having health, wealth, and wisdom. It begins in your thought life.
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