Guard Your Heart
Monday, November 16, 2020
- Pastor Tony Rea
The Bible’s book of Proverbs, often referenced as King Solomon’s collection of wise sayings, axioms, and teachings—wisdom he received directly from the Lord—offer a wonderful resource for us to learn how to make good choices and engage in a wholesome, godly lifestyle.
The second verse of the very first chapter of Proverbs point us to the purpose and theme of the book, giving us clear direction to follow and pursue… “for attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding words of insight.” In other words, the proverbs contain many valuable lessons to learn and apply, lessons we may not have previously known or practiced.
In Proverbs 4, after a strong appeal to pay close attention to his instruction and, in the process, gain understanding, Solomon presents a sizable list of recommendations, counsel, and advice. Then in verse 23, Solomon writes this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Reviewing the verse (Proverbs 4:23), I have always been drawn to the first three words, “Above all else.” “Above all else” literally means more important and of a higher priority than past statements, especially, distinctly, remarkably, specifically, etc… Are you getting the point?
Again, Solomon said, “Above all else, guard your heart.” That’s the directive, that’s the charge—guard your heart.
Just recently, during a Sunday morning sermon at Community Christian Church, I quoted this passage; and when expounding on the meaning of the verse, I used a past police story to illustrate the point I was attempting to make. Following the message, I heard from one of my blog readers who suggested I include that account in a future blog. Once again, I thought to myself, why not? Since it’s fresh in my mind, here goes…
I reported for duty one night when working the midnight shift. While in the locker room preparing for roll call prior to the start of my shift, my lieutenant came looking for me. Once he found me, he said, “I’m sorry. You’re not going to like this assignment, but I need you to find your partner right now, leave the precinct immediately. Don’t even attend the roll call meeting and go directly to this location.”
He handed me a slip of paper with an address on it. My lieutenant then said, “I want you to park the scout car in the driveway and do whatever it takes to guard the occupant of the house.” He said, “She’s a police witness in a brutal homicide. She has received death threats, and I don’t want anything to happen to her.”
Afterwards I said, “Sure thing, how long do you want me to stay there?”
My Lieutenant said, “All night, for eight hours, the entire shift.”
That’s when I started to whine and complain, and I said, “Really, are you kidding? Why me?”
My boss responded and said, “Because you arrested the shooter, and I know you have a vested interest in this case.” After he gave me the name of the bad guy, guess what? He was absolutely right. I was personally involved in the case, and as I drove to the location, I was fully prepared to guard our police witness with my life. That night nothing bad happened to her.
Again in Proverbs 4:23, Solomon wrote, “Above all else, guard your heart…”
That word guard in the Hebrew is an action word. It means: to be engaged with all diligence; to watch over, keep, protect, and preserve. It also means to assign a garrison or station troops in order to defend or fortify a city.
That’s the precise picture I want you to see in your mind’s eye. I want you to imagine a detachment of soldiers and armed security guards marching in step and forming a protective garrison around your heart and life. The main responsibility of the garrison is to protect your soft, tender, loving, caring, responsive heart of flesh from becoming a cold, calloused, and insensitive heart of stone.
How many know that’s a pretty tall order? Instead of engaging in meaningful conversation and discussion, it seems like even the slightest difference of opinion can escalate into hostility, malice, and name-calling. People are immediately labeled and categorized without an honest or fair assessment of fact. Respect, courtesy, and civility have pretty much been removed from the equation (both sides), and currently the law of the land is hatred and intolerance.
It doesn’t take much to get caught up in the downward spiral and vicious cycle. I am seriously amazed at how fast emotions can flare out of control and how quickly heated words can turn dark and deadly.
In Matthew 24:12, Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness [lawlessness (AMP)], the love of most will grow cold.” Here Jesus basically repeated what Solomon said in Proverbs 4; namely, if we are not careful, if we don’t painstakingly guard our hearts with all diligence, we risk losing the genuine love God has deposited within us.
As believers, without love—what do we really have?