Christian Living

What Does it Mean to Guard Your Heart Above All Else?

There are many phrases in the Biblical book of Proverbs, that have become popular sayings today. They were written by king Solomon, and are widely recognized as words of wisdom. After all, that was God’s gift to him and, through these words, to us. Some of the sayings are clear and easy to understand, but others cause us to pause and reflect. Guard your heart above all else, is one of those proverbs that make you think, what does that really mean?

Guard Your Heart Above All Else

We all know how important it is, physically, to have a healthy heart. Although, I admit when I was younger, I never gave it any thought. But like many other people, as I’ve got older I’ve begun to make more of an effort to look after my heart. After all, I’d like to try and be as fit and healthy for as long as possible.

I’ve noticed these days that food packaging and advertising are full of recommendations for a healthy heart. Eat these foods, do this exercise, take these pills, all to keep your heart in a good healthy condition. More often, than not, this is good, practical, advice.

But, of course, this proverb with the advice to guard your heart above all else, has nothing to do with physical fitness. When you read the verse in full it states that all that we do flows from our heart, that in fact it is the wellspring of life.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23 NKJV

What is the Meaning of Proverbs 4:23?

The wisdom in this proverb recognizes that our hearts determine the way that we go. The choices that we make in life are all influenced by our feelings. And our heart always goes with the strongest emotion. If it is rejection, shame, anger, bitterness, or any other negative emotion, they all impact our behavior and the choices that we make.

In the same way, knowing that we are loved and wanted makes all the difference!

If we pause and reflect, we know that this is true. Not one of us ever makes decisions based on information and logic alone. Life choices are governed by our heart, whether it is choosing a partner, a career, or a place to live.

Guard your heart above all else in Proverbs 4:23 is a warning cry to recognize the need for a healthy spiritual heart. If our heart has been damaged through life, we can look to our loving Heavenly Father for healing for all our brokenness – He is Jehovah Rapha, the Healer. God is gracious to bring healing, and forgiveness through repentance to all who turn to Him.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me”

Psalm 51:10-12
A picture of a small pair of hands holding a small red heart with a larger pair of hands cradling the small hands and the text guard your heart above all else.
What does it mean to guard your heart above all else?

Guard Your Heart and Mind

It is important then to guard our hearts and minds, and to fill them with good things. What we allow into our minds, those thoughts, if we dwell on them, soon become our feelings. Those emotions easily settle into our hearts, and, what we store in our hearts, impacts our lives.

This is so often reflected in the words that come tumbling out of our mouths – as if they have a will of their own!

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

Luke 6:45

How Do You Guard Your Heart?

It is now a recognized scientific fact that what we feed our physical bodies affects our hearts. And if we knew our heart was damaged in some way, we would take it seriously and seek treatment as quickly as possible.

But, equally, or even more importantly, what we feed ourselves spiritually affects the health of our spiritual heart.

If our heart is damaged physically, it can affect and restrict our daily life. But if our heart is damaged spiritually, it has an impact on our life now and for eternity.

A damaged physical heart affects our life now, but a damaged spiritual heart impacts eternity!

3 Ways to Guard Your Heart Above All Else

The health of our spiritual heart comes by God’s grace through faith and total dependence upon Jesus. God has provided us with all that we need through Jesus, our Lord and Savior, to reconcile us to Himself. And it is there in the right relationship with the Lord that we find peace and a true sense of inner well-being.

To maintain a healthy heart, to keep our spiritual armor on, there are some spiritual disciplines that we can practice:

Store up the Word of God

Knowing our value and worth in God’s sight brings a deep sense of security. As we fill our hearts with God’s love, meditating on His Word, and reflecting on His promises, His peace will guard our hearts and minds.

I believe the Word of God washes and cleanses us from the dross that life inflicts. As we read God’s word, our thoughts and feelings are realigned to His truth. We are precious to God, and He gave everything to reconcile us to Himself.

We can let go of every unkind word, those put-downs, and critical comments. Instead, we can choose to simply believe in God’s unending love and unfailing grace and fill our hearts and minds with His thoughts and His words towards us.

“Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.”

Job 22:22

Prayer is Key

We make time for those relationships that matter – otherwise, we know that they will deteriorate. To guard your heart above all else is to keep that right relationship with God, with an undivided heart.

In any relationship communication is key and we have the privilege of being able to connect with God in prayer. It is a time to develop intimacy when we talk to Him alone. A safe place to share our innermost thoughts and feelings, and to spend time listening for His reply.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Reflective Accountability

To maintain a healthy spiritual heart, we need to have a check-up! To prayerfully keep short accounts by being reflective in our relationship with God and our interactions with others, is a good spiritual practice. The heart is deceitful and we can often mislead ourselves. Scripture is clear that God is the only one who is able to examine and judge our motives – He knows us better than we know ourselves.

As we prayerfully reflect and examine ourselves, the Holy Spirit may bring conviction. This is to lead us to repentance and full forgiveness. But the Holy Spirit does not bring condemnation and shame. The love of Father God, His compassion and grace, is freely available as we turn back into His embrace.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Psalm 139:23-24

Related Post: Peace of Mind in Daily Life

This book is a series of reflections, bound together by the theme of ‘Be Still My Soul’. The chapters are broken down into clear sections, which enables you to meditate and dwell on a short passage at a time. It explores many of the big themes of how ‘to know’ God more and the true inner peace that comes from that knowledge and experience. Available From Amazon UK, US

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