Doors slamming, people screaming, bridges burning. All in an attempt to…guard your heart?
So many relationships have been broken in the name of self-defense. In order to protect, you shut out; it could be friends, a loved one, advice, or relationships all together. Possibly saddest of all is that many think there is a biblical basis for such reactions.
It seems that some verses in the Bible have been commandeered for specific situations, such as putting up a proverbial barrier between your heart and the world. One such verse would be Proverbs 4:23. More than taking it out of context, this verse has somehow come to represent a cause it doesn’t stand for.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Now, insert comment about being careful in a dating relationship. I remember reading this verse in my early teen years and envisioning building a stone wall around my heart. Complete with a moat and devoid of a drawbridge for extra security. How misguided I was!
Just a few verses before, we read, “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.” What follows is this admonition to “guard your heart with all vigilance”. It could have just as easily been said to “guard my sayings with all vigilance.” Solomon wants his son’s heart protected to keep wisdom in, not block something out. He knows that his son’s only chance to “put away crooked speech, and…let your eyes look directly forward” comes from the overflow of a wise heart, not the guardianship of a selfish one.
Jeremiah saw the true condition of our fallen hearts: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. In light of the wicked tendency of our hearts, how on earth does it fly that the heart is something to fawn over, “listen to”, and protect from the enemy? It very easily can be the enemy. We ought to be praying fervently every day that Jesus would pour out his grace and compassion to convict our hearts of sinfulness. While they are made new after salvation in Christ, they are still in need of guidance. That means that our hearts need to be open to correction, rebuke, exhortation, and words of wisdom; just like the ones Solomon was trying to teach to his son.
If emotional protection is what you seek from a verse like Proverbs 4:23, learn from David and commit your spirit to the Lord. There is no greater protection for your soul than to entrust it to the founder and perfecter of our faith. In so doing you will fill your heart with wisdom and Christ-found joy. Even if you have to take down walls from your heart brick by brick, I promise you that what is on the inside surface of the wall is uglier and more hurtful than what has been thrown against it.
If you have been through a painful relationship, the root of bitterness grown deep in your heart is more harmful than the temporary rejection of someone else. You can move on from rejection. But bitterness only strengthens its hold on your heart and worms its way into every relationship you lay claim to. So remove the wall and welcome the wisdom.
[Guest post by Renee Jarrett. Renee is a reader, writer, and lover of Christ. She is currently majoring in Biblical counseling at Boyce College.]