Guard your heart

Guard your heart

Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

Philippians 4:6-7

 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Modern technology has given rise to criminal fraud, theft, scams, cons, and swindles driven by human avarice and greed. Who has not received suspicious calls (phone phishing) and text messages pretending to be service providers. Many of these impersonate companies such as Amazon, Apple, or even the IRS. Then there is the perpetual catfishing that takes place on dating sites. People pretend to be somebody they’re not, include a photo, and offer a come-on to entrap you. The purpose of the efforts is often to obtain money or, worse, your identity, digital banking username or password, and debit card details or account information via surreptitious intrusions into our personal space.

It is wise to be suspicious and guard yourself against these criminal activities.

More importantly, the Children of the King are advised to guard their hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

Why is the heart so important?

Solomon states that from the heart flow the springs of life. The Hebrew word translated as heart is right is lev.  When Solomon speaks of the heart, he is not referring to the physical organ. Instead, the heart represents the locus of a person’s thoughts (mind), volition, emotions, and knowledge of right and wrong (conscience). This term is also used in idioms such as “to set the heart upon,” meaning “to think about,” or “to want” (TWOT).

The Hebrew word translated as flow, springs, sources, or issues is totsaoth. Typically totsaoth refers to the starting point or source, where something begins or springs into being. “The thought expressed here is that what people think, what is in their minds, determines how they will act. . .. a person’s life is somehow determined by the thoughts stored in the heart or mind (UBS). This phrase could be translated as “‘Everything you do comes out of your heart.’ CEV says ‘Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.’” (UBS).

Essentially Solomon is warning the children of the King to diligently guard their hearts, minds, emotions, and thoughts. This is easy to say but not so easy to do. How often do our thoughts or emotions seem to have a life of their own and take off all by themselves?

When our thoughts and emotions focus on uncertainty and the unknown, they often lead to anxiety and fear. Is there a more excellent way to handle it? Yes indeed! Paul shows the way.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Anxiety wanes and eventually disappears when we take our concerns to the God who has the power and the wisdom to take care of them, believing that He always has our best interests at heart” (Stanley).

Father thank You that the peace of God is not merely the absence of anxiety or conflict. Indeed, it is the tranquility of Your presence in the midst of our circumstances.

INSIGHT

Philippians 4:6-7

 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Rather than giving in to our uncertainty and anxiety and becoming consumed with fear and dread, we are to pray with heartfelt thankfulness for all that the Father has done. When children of the King respond in this way, the Father guarantees that something extraordinary will happen far beyond our human understanding. Somehow the Father implants His peace in our hearts. We become calm, confident, hopeful, and even buoyant. It is truly amazing to experience the same peace that the Father Himself has. What a remarkable honor and blessing.

Children of the King “are to live without care – but not ‘uncaring’ or ‘careless.’ Jesus invites his followers to live ‘without anxiety’ because their heavenly Father knows and cares for them . . .. Apprehension and fear mark the life of the unbelieving, the untrusting, for whom the present is all there is, and for whom the present is so uncertain – or for many so filled with distress and suffering . . ..” (Fee).

When faced with situations where others worry and fret, children of the King “submit their case to God in prayer, accompanied by thanksgiving.  . .. In so doing, one acknowledges utter dependence on God, while at the same time expressing complete trust in him” (Fee).

When we present our cases before the Father, why is it essential that our petitions are accompanied by thanksgiving? Paul provides the answer throughout his life. In Paul’s way of thinking, the lives of children of the King should be marked by a constant outpouring of gratitude to God. “Thanksgiving is an explicit acknowledgment of creatureliness and dependence, a recognition that everything comes as a gift, the verbalization before God of his goodness and generosity” (Fee).

But there’s more.

The Greek word translated as worry or anxious is merimnao. It has the sense of over-anxiety, anxious care, being troubled, or unduly concerned. In the Greek language, words closely related to merimnao are meris and merizo. They have the sense of dividing or parting. When we worry, we divide our emotions and become fractured and splintered internally.  

The Greek word translated as peace is eirene. Eirene is inner tranquility or rest. Eirene is the opposite of war. It is the freedom from worry. The peace of God originates in and comes from God. What is the relationship between peace and God? It is a peace that comes from God. Indeed, it is the peace caused by God (UBS). Peace in the Scriptures is not merely the absence of strife and trouble. Peace is an inner sense of well-being that derives from the presence of the Father. It is an extraordinary and magnificent gift of God. Worry divides our emotions and fractures us; peace brings our fractured emotions into harmony.

The Father’s peace becomes our guardian, our protector. The peace of God literally takes on the responsibility of guarding our hearts. Nothing can penetrate the protection provided by the father’s peace. As we depend upon Him, we simply entrust our fragile hearts to Him. In the 21st century, we would say that the Father has our backs. In the first century, Paul said that He has our hearts. How magnificent is that?

Paul is echoing The Sermon on the Mount. The Lord Jesus Christ was crystal clear; children of the King are not to be anxious. Instead, they are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father.

Why did Paul use the word guard? Could it be that Paul recalled his own imprisonment and the Roman guards that watched over him? But rather than strong, determined, well-trained, and fierce Roman soldiers, the Father guards us with His peace.

When we seek the Father and depend upon Him, we are free to entrust our fragile hearts to Him. Oswald Chambers referred to this practice as the art of abandonment. We learn and practice the art of guarding our hearts, not in our own strength, but instead abandoning them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than attempting to handle our confused emotions ourselves, we abandon them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace and joy simply cannot coexist with anxiety, frustration, anger, and bitterness. Anger left unchecked all too frequently results in depression and a desire for revenge.

Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

¯\_()_/¯

© Dr. H 2022

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