Above all else, guard your heart

5m | Mar 10, 2024

Prov 4: 23 (in the modern NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” The CSB says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” An older version of the NIV says, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”.

Above all else. Above everything.

The first 6 verses of the book of Proverbs tell us its purpose. The various sayings are for gaining wisdom, instruction, for understanding words of insight and learning about prudent behaviour, discretion, and discernment – so that we will do what is right and just and fair.

And, in order to live in the good of these teachings, we are told we must embrace the Fear of the Lord. “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (1: 7) or the beginning of wisdom (in 9: 10).

But today’s verse (chapter 4: 23) seems to go even deeper – Above all else; above everything else – guard your heart. Why? Because it is the wellspring of life. God puts a high value on what goes on in our hearts.

The book of proverbs has a lot to say about the human heart. For example, My son do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart” (Prov 3: 1) and “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov 3: 5).

Then there are other references to the heart that show how vulnerable it is, like, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Prov 14: 30) or “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17: 22). “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Prov 12: 25).

The human heart is fragile. That’s why we need to protect it; to guard it.

When the stuff of life happens, maybe we don’t mean to, but, if we are not careful, we give permission to harmful emotions to enter and fester in our hearts – anxiety, disappointment, pain, which if left untreated can lead to… self-pity, anger, depression, cynicism… No wonder the writer of this proverb (4: 23) pleads with us: “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”. 

What does wellspring mean”?  A wellspring is a well head; a place where a spring comes out of the ground. A source of life.

God made our hearts to be sources of life.

When we keep the Lord’s commands in our heart, when God’s Word is welcomed there, they become a source of life inside us. When we trust Him with all of our heart, we invite the strength and wisdom of God into its depths.

Jesus once said, “the Kingdom of God is within you”.

How do we guard our hearts? Jesus also said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt 5: 8). In other words, keep it pure. Continually pursue purity of heart – in our thoughts, attitudes, reflections, emotions.

Paul said it best: “…brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil 4: 8).

Let only Godly things in your heart and you will guard it well. 

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