As a parent, I am repeatedly instructing my children on the importance of guarding what is happening in their heart and mind. We live in a world that is a constant bombardment of attacks from the Enemy who wants to gain access into every part of our lives for the purpose of killing, stealing, and destroying that which God has created to glorify Him.
There is a constant battle waged between good and evil,
between righteousness and sin, between holiness and selfishness.
Solomon writes in his proverbs that it is incredibly important to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23). We usually approach this scripture from the standpoint in which we build a virtual fence around our hearts in order to keep things out. This is valuable and most certainly a part of guarding our hearts, but equally important is the fence that we build to keep things in.
Solomon precedes this direction by saying, "My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body" (Proverbs 4:20-22, NLT).
Guarding our hearts is not just about keeping out what we want out, it is about keeping in what we want (and need) in. We do that by being attentive and listening to God, spending regular time in His Word, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and choosing obedience in every step of our lives.
Listening to God is not as magical as it might sound. In fact, Solomon says in Proverbs 4:25 that we are to "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you." Listening to God is about obedience. When you are walking in obedience to God, looking straight ahead to where He is directing you to go, you will be guarding your heart against losing that relationship with the Father.
Solomon says in verse 26 to "mark our a straight path for your feet." When I hear this, I am reminded of an exercise we used to participate in while I was in the Marine Corps called land navigation. Using only a compass and a series of coordinates, we were tasked with navigating our way through rough terrain. The key to success in the exercise was a proper understanding of how to use the compass and how to plot your travel path. Daily time with God in His map book for life is more than a spiritual discipline, it is a practical and wise tool for living and it is a vital tool in keeping God's Word hidden in your heart.
The last thing Solomon says in this passage is to be careful not to get sidetracked and keep your feet from following evil (v. 27). There aren't many people today who couldn't speak to the "little voice in their head" that is saying, "Don't do that!" or in some cases, "Do that!" Not to minimize the incredible magnitude of the person of the Holy Spirit, but many times, it is just that: the voice in your head cautioning you against following the wrong path or directing you toward the right one. When you listen carefully to the voice of the Holy Spirit, you guard your heart against the temptations of the Enemy to move you out of fellowship with the Father.
When we are staying close to God, reading His Word, and listening to the Holy Spirit, we are better prepared and equipped to guard the things that are inside our heart. We are better prepared and equipped to be a living witness for Jesus Christ. We are better prepared and equipped to be Jesus to our world. Don't just focus on guarding your heart to keep things out. Guard your heart in order to live in holiness and righteousness, glorifying and honoring to God in everything that you do.