Guard Our Hearts?

guardGuard your heart
Don’t trade it for treasure
Don’t give it away
– Steve Green

How many of us grew up on the above song? The verse from Proverbs 4:23 echoes: “Guard your hearts!” But what does this really mean?

  • Watch over your heart with all dilligence, for from it flow the wellsprings of life. (NAS)
  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (NIV)
  • Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (ESV)

What is translated as “heart” here actually refers to our “mind, inner being” and not to our seat of emotions and affection. The “springs” or “wellsprings” are literally “the outgoings of life i.e. spiritual vitality.” This verse is speaking of far more than the usual “courtship culture” application.

In this way, we must indeed keep a firm hold on our emotions, particularly when it comes to love and romance (but let’s not fail to apply it in other areas). But the task is so great! Have you ever felt overwhelmed in the attempts? Our tendency might also be to swing from letting our emotions have free reign to keeping them in a prison cell where they will perish. How to find the balance?

Josh Harris’s message “Courtship, Shmortship” (note: this message is geared toward singles of marriable age, not teenagers) gives “the courtship guru” himself’s take on the whole concept of guarding our hearts:

We do not accept the unbiblical council of the world to “follow our hearts”; that is a recipe for disaster. But guarding our hearts should not become a self-focused attempt to avoid ever being disappointed!

We’re not to guard our hearts from attraction. Look, in friendships as single men and women, you’re going to be attracted to people. If we attempt to guard ourselves against attraction or disappointment, we will end up cutting ourselves off from the good gifts of friendship and fellowship that God has for us.

And if, as has happened to probably all of us, if the person that you are interested in doesn’t share the same kind of romantic interest in you, God will enable you to trust Him and enable you to walk through that disappointment.

Girls, we cannot “guard our hearts” on our own. We were never meant to; we cannot try to. Look who promises to guard our hearts: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

Isn’t one of our primary motivations for guarding our hearts a fear of being hurt? Let us not live this way any longer. C.S. Lewis, in “The Four Loves” says this:

I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness…Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness…we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.

What are we to do when affections come? When our emotions cause us pain and uncertainty? The answer is in the preceding verse in Philippians. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (vs. 6).

If we lay our requests, our fears, our all before God, His peace will guard our hearts. Not from all pain, disappointment, and suffering–but from something far worse than these. The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ for His glory and our good. His peace will free us from anxiety and His love from fear (1 John 4:18).


One thought on “Guard Our Hearts?

  1. Archived Comments:

    Posted February 6, 2007 at 12:46 PM |
    “If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.”
    All I can say is wow. That is exactly what I needed to hear. In fact, I have been praying for the last few days that God would speak to my heart. He certainly did through this! Thank you so much, Natalie.

    Posted February 6, 2007 at 7:29 PM | Permalink
    Oh. . .Natalie. . . I so needed to hear this. Thank you so much for this post.

    Posted February 6, 2007 at 9:48 PM | Permalink
    That was a good reminder of the need for balance in every area of our lives, including our emotions and relationships.

    Posted February 6, 2007 at 9:51 PM | Permalink
    Natalie, thank you so much for this post. It encouraged me and was exactly what I needed this evening.

    Posted February 7, 2007 at 7:14 AM |
    It’s been awhile since I’ve posted but I’m always reading. . .I’ve been busy loving my husband (Congratulations by the way – I praise the Lord with you!).
    I really appreciate reading an encouraging article that takes the “guard your heart” scriptures and extends it past courtship as well as practically and appropriately applying it to courtship.

    It appears C.S. Lewis has a lot to say on the topic as here is another thought provoking quote:

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
    Always reading!
    pax tecum,
    Vanessa van der Meer

    Posted February 7, 2007 at 1:03 PM | Permalink
    This post topic was about the exact thing I’ve been wrestling with lately. Thank you for posting it. It really encouraged my heart this morning to not be anxious, but to lift fears and worries to the Lord and give thanks for His goodness and control in my life:-)

    Posted February 7, 2007 at 1:49 PM | Permalink
    Thank you–you’ve really helped crystalize some thoughts I’ve been wrestling with recently.

    Posted February 7, 2007 at 4:29 PM | Permalink
    Thank you so much for this post! It really struck a chord with me, esp. Josh’s quote, “Look, in friendships as single men and women, you’re going to be attracted to people. Don’t pick up and run away from that relationship the first moment that you sense some form of attraction.” That’s something that hasn’t been said too often in the courtship world!

    Rachel Starr Thomson
    Posted February 7, 2007 at 6:42 PM | Permalink
    Thanks for that, Natalie. Excellent thoughts and not often articulated. I’ve noticed in the past few years that some things we paint as “godly” are truly just a way of spiritualizing our fears and desires to be in control. Life is not about eliminating risk, but about following God through risk, even if it sometimes means being in the midst of hurt.

    Posted February 13, 2007 at 7:38 PM | Permalink
    Thanks for the refreshing insights…

    Posted March 23, 2008 at 9:46 PM | Permalink
    Natalie, you are such a blessing. It’s difficult to admit it, but I have found that when my heart was most proud, God had to find a way to break it. He has done it several times, but as I look back upon my life, I have learned the hard way, but it has been good for me. Breaking our hearts is one way God has to get our attention. It’s like you are this valuable jeweled vessel, proud and want to show off the beauty of your personality, the colorfulness of who you are, and then something happens, and you shatter into a million pieces. But giving our broken hearts to God, He’ll pick up the pieces and put us back to wholeness once again. Maybe not right away, but the wounds heal, if we entrust our hearts once again to our Savior.


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