In April of 2017, our home was robbed in a very calculated, evil way. Our sacred space had been ravaged by thieves, violated and what was left behind after the fact was destruction, loss and emotionally scarred places deep in our souls.
It didn’t seem possible that this could happen to us. Before we moved into our home, we installed the best alarm system possible. We armed the house and out we went, trusting the system in place to do the job it was assigned to do.
What I did not know was that there was one very small window in my house that was unarmed. There was one point of entry that was a weak link. It was through that one very small unarmed place that the enemy entered. No alarm sounded and the damage was done.
Three years later, I thought that I had come to experience every possible lesson there was to learn through this trial but recently, in a season of transition, God reminded me of the words found in Proverbs 23:4
Guard your heart…
Because it is in transition, places where we go in and places where we go out, that weak links are exposed and the enemy is waiting to enter. We could call these places of transition ‘doors’. These places of entry and exit are what we need to guard the most.
As is true of our homes, our hearts have places of transition as well, doors where we allow thoughts to come in and doors where we allow our affections to go out. We have been given the charge by God to guard these doors, to keep out what needs to stay out and to keep in what needs to stay in. Guarding the doors of our hearts is critical.
What does it mean to guard our hearts?
I love exploring definitions to grasp a greater understanding of what words mean.
To guard means to keep from danger, to keep close, to put up a blockade.
Our heart is our inner man, the seat of our emotions, our passions, our deep inner thoughts, our soul.
Given these definitions, guarding our heart means to keep our inner man from danger, to keep our emotions, our passions and our deep inner thoughts close. To guard our heart means to put up a blockade around our soul.
Just like we do in regard to our homes, we guard our hearts by putting a watch on what comes in and on what goes out.
We are to guard what comes into our hearts.
Statistics say that we have an average of 12,000-60,000 thoughts every day! Of those thoughts, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive. This means that the things that we think about today are probably the very same things that we thought about yesterday, and if we do not guard the door, they will be the very same things that we will think about tomorrow. Opening the doors to these negative, reoccurring thoughts gives these thoughts access to our hearts, our souls, the deepest part of who we are. These become weak links leading to anger, resentment, fear and bitterness.
Guarding the doors and windows of our hearts allows us to keep a blockade on our thoughts. Paul knew it would be a struggle to keep our hearts guarded but he knew it was not impossible. In Philippians 4:8, he give us instruction on how to guard what comes into our hearts:
So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.
Continually. Fixed. Fasten. Always. These are secure words, constant words that leave no gap in the guard. They leave no weak point for the enemy to enter, no room for the hidden schemes of the devil.
How do we place this guard at the door? 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us how.
We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
That means we hold up each one of our 12,000-60,000 thoughts every day and we judge it according to the standard of God’s Word. If it does not align with the standard set in Philippians 4:8, then we do not let it in the door. We have to choose to throw out thoughts that keep our minds from being set on Him, thoughts that force us to believe the lies thrown our way and choose to only give access to the things that come from above.
Sounds exhausting, but if 95% of our thoughts are repetitive, as we hold them accountable to the Word, imagine how much easier it will be as each of those thoughts are demolished and replaced with a truth from the Word of God. Eventually the negative, destructive thoughts that plague us will be destroyed and new, life giving thoughts will take their place. A little hard work on the front end reinforcing the doors will bring us to a renewed mind and our repetitive thoughts will be those that lift us up, edify us and remind our hearts of the truth.
Guarding what comes into our hearts is only one part of the solution.
We are to guard what goes out as well.
Each one of us has been given the gift of affections, feelings, emotions. Every day we are faced with situations, people, struggles that are vying for our affections. They stand at the door to our hearts and beg for us to open the door. When we refuse, they stand back and watch, waiting to identify a weak link, a place in which they can access our affections….just a bit.
In this place of transition, where our affections go out, it is equally important to place a guard at the door. Colossians 3:2 tells us where our affections should go.
Set your affections on things above…
We have the choice as to where we will set our affections. We get to decide who to entrust with this gift that the Lord has entrusted to us. Setting our affections on anything other than things from above will leave us empty as the enemy robs us of these affections and emotions. It is our responsibility to guard the door.
Why do we guard our hearts?
Why is it so vitally important to guard these places of transition, these doors where things go in and these places where things go out? The rest of the verse from Proverbs 23:4 gives us the answer.
Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.
The phrase ‘springs of life’ in this passage is a beautiful picture of what happens in a believer’s heart when we guard the doors and windows of our hearts. The life that is referred to here is a word that means renewal, a word that means revival. We could paraphrase this verse with this definition to read something like this:
Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flows a spring of renewal, for from it flows a spring of revival.
We long for renewal. We cry out for revival. Our tired spirits are yearning for something fresh, something new, a break from all of the negativity we feed ourselves and relief from the pain that has crushed our emotions and infiltrated our minds. Could it be that we hold within our grasp the very answer to bring about the personal renewal, the personal revival we desire?
Could it be that we only need to guard our hearts, to secure the places of transition where thoughts come in and emotions go out in order to usher in this new spring waiting to flow?
The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. His greatest desire is to keep you from experiencing the fullness of all that God has for you, to stop the waters of renewal and revival from freely flowing in and through you. He will come to the places where he can easily gain access, perhaps the very place where he has been able to secure a foothold in the past.
Wouldn’t it just shake him up if this time when he approached your heart he encounters doors and windows that were loosely clasped in the past now double armed and securely shut? Wouldn’t it throw him off to find that your weak link isn’t weak anymore?
The day after our robbery, the alarm company came to our home. With new technology and new systems in place, they reinforced our entry points creating places of transition that are now stronger than they were before. Our weak links from the past are no longer weak. We have set a guard. What comes in is only what is pleasing and acceptable and what goes out is what we intentionally permit to go past the doors. What peace we have felt since we guarded the doors to our home.
Guard the door of your heart. Guard it with all you’ve got. Secure the places of transition in your thoughts and affections and watch what will happen as the life giving water of renewal and revival starts to flow.
Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says! John 7:39