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Applying “Guard Your Heart”

How do we apply “guard your heart” in everyday life without becoming legalistic, misinterpreting it or becoming too lax?

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

If you remember in Instructions for Keeping Your Heart we compared Proverbs 4:24-27 and Proverbs 5:1-6. There are four things we are to watch out for in order to “guard our hearts“.

Heart – Proverbs 4:23

Speech – Proverbs 4:24 and Proverbs 5:3-4

Eyes – Proverbs 4:25

Feet – Proverbs 4:26-27 and Proverbs 5:5-6

Heart

What flows out of your heart?

Matthew 12:35 (ESV) The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

What do you fill your heart with?

This is actually a tough one once you begin to consider all the things we can fill our hearts with.  I honestly don’t know what blind spots I have and what I have allowed my children to fill their hearts with.  I’m sure others see my blind spots clearly though. 😉

One thing we avoid in our family is books and movies of the romance genre.  I had no guidance as a child about the books I read.  Thankfully I did have a large church library to read from which helped tremendously.  However, as I have grown in my faith I wish I could have avoided many of the books I did read.  Many books were of the Historical Fiction / Romance genre, think Grace Livingston Hill.  Her books actually were very mild compared to the books today.  I spent several years as a church librarian which meant I read hundreds of books for the church library.  Honestly, I was often embarrassed at what books church members would donate to the library.

Essentially media like books and movies can give expectations that may never be met and lead to disappointment.

Why it is important to seriously evaluate your media consumption?

1) Gives unrealistic expectations of life.

a) Rags to Riches stories.

b) Prince sweeps up a commoner and they live happily ever after.

c) The Amish live perfect lives with no cares, beyond the inevitable falling in love with an “Englischer”.

2) Missionary Dating – the “bad” boy turned around by the “good’ girl and they live happily ever after.

3) Gives ideas of how marriages “should be”, but not necessarily based on Scripture.

4) Causes a dissatisfaction with a spouse who is not flamboyantly romantic, tall, dark and dashingly handsome or inherently wealthy.

See Can Romance Novels Hurt Your Heart? by Russell Moore.  I find it sadly funny how many women took Moore to task for his about warning about Romance novels.  Stepped on toes, maybe?

Speech

You will give an account for every word spoken. Are your words coming from the sin in your heart? Do your words cause another to sin?

Do you spread rumors or lies?  Do you try to denigrate others in order to make yourself look better?

Proverbs 16:27–28 (ESV)

27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Matthew 12:36 (ESV)

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Let your speech be edifying to others.

Colossians 3:16 (ESV) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 4:6 (ESV) Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Let your speech set an example to others.

1 Timothy 4:12–13 (ESV)

12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

Titus 2:7–8 (ESV)

7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,

8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

 

Eyes

Psalm 18:27 (ESV) For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Psalms 101:3 (ESV) I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.

Psalms 101:5 (ESV) Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

What have you set before your eyes? What do you watch on TV? Does it honor the Lord? Would you want the Lord to join you watching TV? What about the computer?

Do your eyes lead you astray?

Do your eyes reveal the sin in your heart?

Do your haughty eyes reveal a rebellious spirit?

Don’t forget to check for logs while you are at it!

Luke 6:41–42 (ESV)

41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Feet

 Hold fast to the path of the Lord.

Psalm 17:5 (ESV) My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

Psalm 119:101 (ESV) I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.

Ponder your path.

Proverbs 4:26–27 (ESV)

26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.

27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Don’t be impatient or in a rush.

Proverbs 19:2 (ESV) Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

 

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Guard Your Heart series


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Misapplying “Guard Your Heart”

{Well, this is the post that I worked on all Monday afternoon and it disappeared somewhere into the big cloud in the sky.  It of course was much longer than this one.  I can’t remember what I’ve left out.  The digital age is frustrating!}

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Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Misapplying “Guard Your Heart

1) Inability to interact with others

I’ve seen this happen several times.  A young man walks up to a young lady and simply says “Hello“.  The young lady ignores the young man and walks away.  She is “guarding her heart“!  That “Lady in Waiting” maybe be waiting a long, long time.

2) Fear of being hurt

Most of the people I’m around today see children as a blessing.  However, when I was younger and working outside the home I did hear women express the idea that they didn’t want children because they couldn’t bear it if their children were to go astray or to cause them too much emotional pain.

Others use the concept of “guarding their heart” to keep from being vulnerable and open with friends and family.  Now, of course, you shouldn’t share everything with everyone (Proverbs 11:13), but being reluctant to be open in close relationships is a selfish self-protective misuse of this verse. We should never just “look out for #1” while in a relationship.

This also doesn’t mean that there aren’t boundaries in our vulnerability with others.  Boundaries are important and should be developed according to the particular relationship.  Two friends will have a different sort of boundary than a courting couple.  Yet courting couples will have different boundaries than a married couple.  In a marriage there should be very few boundaries.

Love hurts at times.  Think about Christ and His love for His Bride, the Church.  Christ’s love cost Him dearly, yet aren’t we glad He loved us?  Love does hurt, but it is well worth the pain it can cause.  We are not to build a wall around our hearts so high that we cannot let anyone in.

3)  Negating emotions as unimportant

This is a very tough concept to explain.  No one ever should be ruled by their emotions. Emotions can be very dangerous.  Since the Fall our emotions often want to run away with us and lead us into sin.  Our emotions reveal our hearts.

Luke 6:45 (ESV)  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

However, emotions are real and must be evaluated according to Scripture.  The Lord gave us emotions to reveal to us some of His character.  Only God loves purely, hates without sin, is kind without selfishness, jealous from a pure heart, etc.  We, as believers, are to keep directing our emotions into more and more Christ likeness.  Even Paul was jealous for the Corinthian believers to remain sincere and pure to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:2-3 (ESV)

2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Mr. Spock may be very logical but emotions are still important to understanding one another.  The Lord does not want us to live our lives purely on logic and clinical analysis of our emotions.  He gives us guidelines in the Bible in how to hold our emotions in check and yet display Christ likeness.  Empathy, an emotion, is necessary to understanding fellow believers.  The fruits of the Spirit are emotions that believers display through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Guarding our hearts” does not mean emotions have no value in how we live or what we do in the future.  “Guarding our hearts” means we make sure that sin does not sway us into sinful emotions.

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Guard Your Heart series


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Hearts Made Beautiful

In Beautiful Treasure or Deceitfully Wicked?, we looked at how the Bible describes our hearts.  Our hearts aren’t beautiful treasures to guard and protect.  Our hearts are deceitfully wicked and evil, inclining to sin in all our thoughts (Jeremiah 17:9; Genesis 6:5).  We’ve also seen that Proverbs 4:23 is actually instructions for us to keep our hearts from sin.

However, there are a few verses that speak of beautiful hearts and good treasures of the heart.  How do we get our hearts from deceitfully wicked to good treasures?  The Lord doesn’t leave us without instructions.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV)

1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you,  

2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;

3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

 

Proverbs 7:1-3 (ESV)

1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Treasuring God’s Word and writing it upon the tablets of our heart is how we are to turn our wicked, deceitful hearts into an abundance of good treasure.  God’s Word is ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5).  When we keep the Lord in our hearts He will turn our deceitfully wicked hearts into well springs of beautiful treasures (Matthew 12:33-37).

Matthew 6:21 (ESV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (see also Luke 12:34)

Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)

33  “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.

34  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

35  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”    (see also Luke 6:45)

We, as women, are to adorn our hearts with a gentle and quiet spirit which will be very precious in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV)

3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—
4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

So is your heart still deceitfully wicked or have you filled your heart with the Treasure from Christ, God’s Incarnate Word?

Ultimately the peace of Christ Jesus, Himself, guards our hearts.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Beautiful Treasure or Deceitfully Wicked?

Beautiful Treasure or Deceitfully Wicked?

That is an interesting question concerning the heart. What have you been taught? What have you taught your children? Have you heard or read those who treat the heart like a beautiful treasure?  Like it is something that must be guarded and protected from the evil out in the world, protected from the evil of others?

But what does the Bible say about the heart? That is what is most important consideration even if it is contrary to whatever you’ve been told before.

So what is the heart?

Oh, we all know that physically it is the muscular organ that pumps our blood through our bodies.

But seriously when we speak of “Guarding or keeping our heart” surely we aren’t speaking of that physical bodily organ.

How about we start at the beginning. Always a good place to start don’t you think?

Genesis 6:5 (ESV)

5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Now that helps. The heart has thoughts, but not only that but man’s thoughts of the heart are continually evil. The Lord was grieved in His heart over the condition of man. So far then the heart has thoughts, sin and emotions.

Technically the word translated as heart in the Bible has multiple meanings but most often it is the inner man, the will, or the mind that is meant even when using the word heart.

If you jump ahead to Psalms we get to pondering in our heart.

Psalms 4:4 (ESV) Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah

Pondering is mulling over, considering before making a decision.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Here we see that pride comes from the heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Now this verse is very important for understanding the heart. See our hearts are deceitful and sick.

Now those were all Old Testament. Let’s look at the New Testament.

Mark 7:20-23
20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.
21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Now see even in the NT the heart is the source for evil thoughts, sins, and wickedness. The things that come from the heart defile a person. Not what others do to you but what actually comes from your own heart.

Do you realize the importance of that? We are not defiled by the sins of others. We are defiled by the sins from our own hearts.

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Notice something?

So far where is anything relating the heart to being a beautiful treasure?

 

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Guard Your Heart series

 

 


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Instructions for Keeping Your Heart

So does Proverbs 4:23 have anything to do with young ladies guarding their hearts (emotions) in relationships like many books and resources suggest?

Let’s look ahead at Proverbs 5 it begins “My Son, …”

Just a note – chapter breaks and verses breaks are not original to the text. They were added rather recently in the course of Biblical History. So don’t ever get hung up by thinking a chapter break means anything more than just an arbitrary division.

Anyway Proverbs 5 could very easily continue on with the thought expressed in Proverbs 4. Because as we’ll see it fits right together.

Proverbs 5:1-6
1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

Let us compare Proverbs 4:24-27 and Proverbs 5:1-6

Heart Proverbs 4:23

Speech Proverbs 4:24 and Proverbs 5:3-4

Eyes Proverbs 4:25

Feet Proverbs 4:26-27 and Proverbs 5:5-6

Notice what all we are instructed to guard or keep. We are to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23). Guard our mouths by putting away crooked and devious speech (Proverbs 4:24, Proverbs 5:3-4). Guard our eyes by looking straight ahead (Proverbs 4:25). Guard our feet by keeping to the path (Proverbs 4:26-27, and Proverbs 5:5-6).

Guarding or keeping our hearts isn’t referring to our emotions or feelings necessarily.  Guarding our hearts is referring to avoiding sin.  Watching what we say, watching where we look, and watching where we walk.

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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Proverbs 4:20-27

Proverbs 4:20-27

20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-22 is the father again calling for his son to pay attention to his words. Incline your ears to my words, keep them within your heart; they are life and healing. The Father is saying it is vitally important that his son listen to these words of life.

Proverbs 4:23 is the verse that gets lots of attention today. “Keep your heart” or “guard your heart” really doesn’t tell us much if you come to the verse without preconceived ideas. So in order to understand what the verse means we must take the preceding verses and those verses that follow to arrive at the meaning in context. It is particularly the verses that follow that give a broader explanation of Proverbs 4:23.

Proverbs 4:24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.

Here we see that we are to put away crooked speech.

Proverbs 6:12-15
12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

A worthless, wicked person uses crooked speech to sow discord and devise evil.

Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

Crooked speech and foolishness go together.

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

Don’t be casting our eyes around looking to see what everyone else is doing. Don’t let the actions of others pull you from the path.

What are our eyes to be looking to?

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

When we let others or our desires pull our eyes away from Jesus we will stray from the path. I remember ancient years ago when taking ballet that when you did a pirouette you were always to get a fixed focal point in order to keep yourself balanced and on track for each turn. We as believers must always have Jesus as our focal point otherwise we will wobble and fall off track.

Proverbs 4:26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.

The wicked, forbidden woman does not ponder her path and she wanders off but doesn’t even know it.

Proverbs 5:3
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

It is much easier to wander off the right path than you might think. Sometimes you don’t realize you’ve wandered until you are so far away it is hard to get back on the right path.

Proverbs 4:27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

More instructions to not swerve off the path. There is evil off both sides of the path and we are to turn away from evil.

Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus and keeping straight to the path?

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Guard Your Heart series


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Proverbs 4 – Path of the Wicked

Proverbs 4:14-19 concerns avoiding the path of the wicked.

Proverbs 4:14-19 (ESV)

14  Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15  Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18  But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19  The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.

This passage gives us several methods of avoiding the wicked path.  We are to avoid it at all costs.  We aren’t to go up to the edge and peer over.  Nor are we to walk along just slightly off the beaten path.  Nor are we to take “shortcuts” utilizing the path of the wicked along our walk.

Avoiding the Path of the Wicked

  • Do not enter the path of the wicked – Proverbs 4:14
  • Do not walk in the way of evil – Proverbs 4:14
  • Avoid it – Proverbs 4:15
  • Do not go on it – Proverbs 4:15
  • Turn away from it – Proverbs 4:15
  • Pass on – Proverbs 4:15
  • Deep darkness – Proverbs 4:19
  • Do not know over what they stumble – Proverbs 4:19

Notice how similar Proverbs 4:14-19 is to Psalms 1:1 and Proverbs 1:15-16?

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

Proverbs 1:15-16 (ESV)

15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.

The Lord takes seriously our sinful human tendency to be persuaded to evil by those we associate with.  That is why we have the Bible full of warnings like this to avoid the path of the wicked.  We also need to not become complacent in thinking that we aren’t hanging around with wicked people so this doesn’t affect us.  Some companions that many forget about are the companions on TV, in the music industry (both secular and “Christian”), computers, the characters in books, and the characters in movies.  These companions have much more influence than many realize.  Often it amazes me how children are allowed to watch and read about circumstances that no one would allow them to participate in real life.

“The sins of others leave some kind of stain upon the conscience. I question whether you can read a newspaper and scan the story of a murder or a robbery, or survey with more distant glance in any book of history the sin of your fellow men, without being in a degree injured therewith.”

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Charles Spurgeon

 

As we get closer to Proverbs 4:23 concerning guarding or keeping your heart we see how avoiding the path of the wicked is important to the idea of guarding your heart.

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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Proverbs 4 – Wisdom

Let us look at an over view of Proverbs 4:5-13.

In Proverbs 4:5-13 the instructions are to “get wisdom”.

Proverbs 4:5  Get wisdom; get insight;

Proverbs 4:7 …Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

Proverbs 4:11 I have taught you the way of wisdom; …

Wisdom is referred to in a feminine sense as something very desirable.

This is what Wisdom will do:

  • Keep you” – Proverbs 4:6
  • Guard you” – Proverbs 4:6
  • Exalt you” – Proverbs 4:8
  • Honor you” – Proverbs 4:8
  • Place on your head a graceful garland” – Proverbs 4:9
  • Bestow on you a beautiful crown.” – Proverbs 4:9
  • When you walk, your step will not be hampered” – Proverbs 4:12
  • If you run, you will not stumble.” – Proverbs 4:12
  • Is your life” – Proverbs 4:13

Now we can do a whole Bible Study on Wisdom but just a summary is I will do right now.  In this passage Wisdom is used as an analogy to a  female.  However, we are later told more about Wisdom. Who is Wisdom?

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (ESV)
30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Wisdom is Christ.  Let’s read each of the above and see that Christ does all that the passage in Proverbs says Wisdom will do.

Christ will:

  • Keep you” – Proverbs 4:6 / Revelation 3:10
  • Guard you” – Proverbs 4:6 / 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  • Exalt you” – Proverbs 4:8 / 1 Peter 5:14
  • Honor you” – Proverbs 4:8 / Romans 2:6-8
  • Place on your head a graceful garland” – Proverbs 4:9 / 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
  • Bestow on you a beautiful crown.” – Proverbs 4:9 / Isaiah 28:5
  • When you walk, your step will not be hampered” – Proverbs 4:12 / Psalms 18:35-36
  • If you run, you will not stumble.” – Proverbs 4:12 / Jude 24
  • Is your life” – Proverbs 4:13 / Colossians 3:4

 

So our goal is to Get Wisdom, Get Christ.

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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Proverbs 4:23

Let’s start by reading Proverbs 4:23 in context.

Proverbs 4 (ESV)

1 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,

2 for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.

3 When I was a son with my father,  tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,

4 he taught me and said to me,  “Let your heart hold fast my words;  keep my commandments, and live.

5  Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.

6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;  love her, and she will guard you.

7  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.

9 She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

10  Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many.

11 I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.

12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.

13  Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

14  Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.

15 Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.

16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness  and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

19  The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

20  My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.

21  Let them not escape from your sight;  keep them within your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.

25  Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

26  Ponder the path of your feet;  then all your ways will be sure.

27  Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

 

Notice something missing?  The word “guard” is not there.  As far as I can find the NIV is the only version that uses guard.  The other translations use the word “keep“.

So what might Proverbs 4:23 mean by “keep” or “guard your heart“?

Look back at Proverbs 4:1 “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,“.  The chapter begins with a Father speaking to his son.  Proverbs 4 verses 10 and 20 reference “My son“.  Proverbs chapter 5 also begins in a similar manner “My son, be attentive to my wisdom;  incline your ear to my understanding,”.  So obviously this verse is not directed specifically to young ladies as many might imply.  Nevertheless the general principles of the verse does apply to all believers.  But it isn’t particularly in reference to guarding your heart in relationships, unless you are speaking of your relationship with Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 4:5-10).

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Guard Your Heart series

 

 


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Guarding Your Heart

What does the saying “Guard your Heart” mean to you?

A lot of that may depend on your age.  When I was young (a long, long time ago), I don’t think I ever heard that expression.  But often today you will hear that phrase tossed around usually directed toward our youth and especially toward our young ladies. Most often in the ideology of “guarding your heart” during relationships in dating.

Where does that phrase originate?

Proverbs 4:23 has the expression “guard your heart“.  Now probably all of us have read that verse many times especially since Proverbs is a book of the Bible that is easy to read and is full of essentially sound bites of information.  Sound bites is about all of the Bible, or even any reading, many today do.  But unless you are younger, a part of homeschooling or a part of the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” generation you may not have thought much about that phrase beyond the level of any other verse.

What might surprise you is this verse is one of many verses in the Bible that are often taken out of context and given meaning beyond what was intended in the Bible and by the Lord.

Take some time reading Proverbs 4:23 and we’ll look closer at it later.  You might be surprised. 😉

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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