Many times in the Scriptures we are given warnings from our Creator, Yahuwah Elohim [the Hebrew name for the LORD God]. One of the most important of these warnings is to “guard your heart“!
Our heart is an extremely important part of us. God knows that our heart holds the inner workings of our deepest, most intimate thoughts. He knows the thoughts, the intents, and the secrets of our heart. (Psalms 44:21).
Both in the natural realm and in the spiritual realm, the heart is very significant!
In the natural realm, the heart is a vital organ. It is the first functional organ to develop, beat, and pump blood at about three weeks after conception. The heart, being the first organ to develop in a baby, reveals a principle: what comes first is most important and of the highest significance!
This is true in the spiritual realm as well. The heart, in the spiritual realm, refers to the center, the essential core of a person. The heart holds the most important elements of a person, as the Scripture confirms: Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)
In the spiritual realm, the heart is the wellspring, the primary source of our thoughts, emotions, will, intellect, words, and actions. The heart is like the source of a fountain that issues forth a natural spring of water.
God warns us to guard what goes into our heart because out of it flows the issues of life:
Guard your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
To guard something is to diligently protect it, being cautious, watchful, and mindful of possible threats. Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God] admonishes us to guard our heart because it is the inspiration for all our behaviour. Out of the heart flows the motivation for our thoughts, purposes, desires, our words and actions.
If we are diligent to ‘guard’ our heart then the ‘fountain’ of our heart will remain clear and clean. But if we are sloppy in guarding our heart, then the ‘fountain’ of our heart can become muddy, murky, and polluted.
The instruction for ‘guarding’ our heart holds true in both the natural realm and in the spiritual realm. Many need to diligently guard what goes into their heart in the natural, physical realm, because diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death worldwide.
Our focus here however, is to guard our heart in the spiritual realm.
Clear & Clean vs Murky & Polluted
In the spiritual realm, there are multitudes of decisions and actions that we do every day that affect the spiritual ‘fountain’ of our heart, either for good or for bad. Every time we make a choice, we are either helping our heart to stay clear and clean, or we are causing our heart to become murky and polluted.
Decisions that are based on honesty, justice, self-control, and courage help us, little by little, to eventually become a wise, disciplined, humble, and honourable person. Decisions based on dishonesty, selfishness, indulgence, and fear cause us, little by little, to eventually become a self-important, arrogant, immoral, and deceitful person.
What kind of person would our heavenly Father desire us to become?
Certainly Yahuwah wants us to be conformed into the image of His Son, Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] (Romans 8:28-29), the One who is meek, humble, helpful, truthful, and compassionate. Yahuwah wants to help us by His Holy Spirit to be obedient to His Word, and to become as He is: “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (see 1Peter 1:15-16). This is Yah’s goal for us, because the upright, the righteous, delight Him (Proverbs 11:20).
So we see that guarding our heart is very important for those who desire to learn God’s ways and walk in His truth. But how do we begin to ‘guard’ our heart?
God tells us several ways to guard our heart. He gives us many instructions on how to guard our heart, as well as many warnings against polluting our heart.
Let’s look at four tips for guarding our heart, the first two tips being warnings.
Warning #1 – Pride: An Abomination
Everyone who is proud (arrogant, haughty) in heart is an abomination to Yahuwah [the LORD]; be assured, he (the proud) will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
This verse teaches us that pride is extremely loathsome to Yahuwah [the LORD].
Pride or self-conceit is one of the most spiritually destructive characteristics. Pride corrupts the fountain source of our heart! Pride is the greatest evil because it causes us to be hardened against the truth about ourselves and about God. When we see pride in others, it is repulsive to us, and yet, it is most disgusting within ourselves.
The problem with pride is that it causes us to insist that ‘our’ understanding, ‘our’ wisdom, and ‘our’ point of view is correct. We thus become locked into our own self-importance. When we are locked into pride, we are then unable to humble ourselves; unable to begin to consider that we might be wrong about a matter. This kind of pride is a slippery slope downward into the spiritual darkness of deception (Galatians 6:3).
As we discussed in Turning From Darkness to Light, pride is a darkness that tends to prevail, and periodically overtake everyone. No one is immune to the darkness of pride! When the darkness of pride covers us, then the light of Truth is extinguished and we begin walking in a pathway of death (Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 21:24; James 4:6).
So we must be diligent to guard ourselves against the pollution of a prideful, arrogant heart and seek to behave with humility.
Warning #2 – They Go Astray In Their Heart
For forty years I [Yahuwah] was grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways. (Psalms 95:10)
Because they [the Israelites in the wilderness] despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. (Ezekiel 20:16)
The first verse above teaches us that going astray (which describes a muddy, polluted heart) is the result of not knowing the ways of Yahuwah [the LORD], and thereby we are not doing (not obeying) His Word (James 1:22).
The second verse above, shows us an example of what it means to not ‘know’ the ways of Yahuwah [the LORD]. The apostle Paul tells us that the Israelites in the wilderness are for our example. They illustrate for us what it means to go astray in our heart – it is to wander away from walking in God’s ways, wander away from walking in His truth.
The lack of knowledge of Yahuwah’s Word and His ways has a devastating outcome for the people of Yah:
My people [Yah’s people] are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you hast rejected knowledge [His Word], I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to Me: seeing you have forgotten the law [the Torah] of your God, I will also forget your children. (Hosea 4:6)
It is frightening to realize that Yah’s own people are destroyed for lack of knowledge of His ways! That word ‘destroyed’ can also be translated as ‘perish, cut down, or be undone’.
The prophet Jeremiah further confirms the sad outcome of those who do not know Yahuwah’s ways. They end up being poor, weak, needy, and foolish (Jeremiah 5:4).
So we must be diligent to guard ourselves against the pollution of going the wrong way – going astray in our heart through ignorance of God’s Word. Instead we must begin to seek diligently to know the Word of God for ourselves.
These two warnings – 1) Pride and 2) Lack of Knowledge of God’s ways – these ought to be as flashing red lights, urging us to heed the warnings and to earnestly and diligently begin to guard our heart.
Let us now look at two Scripture passages that teach us positive ways for ‘guarding’ our heart.
There are many Scriptures in the Bible that give instructions on guarding the heart. But we will look briefly at only two that give very basic guidelines on this matter.
Guarding #1 – Pay Attention to God’s Word
My son, pay attention to (hearken and obey) My Words [the written Scriptures]; incline (bow down) your ears to My sayings. Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst (the center) of your heart. (Proverbs 4:20-21)
This passage is a message to all of Yahuwah’s children, sons and daughters. This instruction is the primary way Father tells us for how to ‘guard’ our heart –
- to pay attention to God’s Word,
- to listen to God’s Word,
- to keep God’s Word before our eyes,
- to keep God’s Word in the center of our heart.
This particular guarding of our heart means we will begin to study the Scriptures for ourselves, so we can hide His Word in our heart (Psalms 119:11). This guarding of our heart means we will begin to pay close attention to God’s precious Word by setting aside time each day for 1) private prayer and 2) reading/studying the Bible.
What is the reason for keeping God’s Word in the center of our heart? We find the answer in a very important verse in Joshua:
This book of the law [the Torah] shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shalt make your way prosperous, and then you shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
Yahuwah wants us to DO His Word! He wants us to be obedient to all the written Scriptures, including the Scriptures that Messiah gave to Moses! This is the pathway to our well-being!
This verse in Joshua confirms further how we can ‘guard’ our heart:
- we speak God’s written Word out loud,
- we meditate on it ‘day and night’, and
- we obey it!
As we regularly keep God’s written Word before our eyes and in our heart, then little by little, we are more inclined to make decisions that strengthen our heart’s resolve to be obedient to Yahuwah’s ways. With God’s Word in our heart, we are more inclined to heed the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and therefore stay in harmony with Father’s Word and His plans for us. This is how we guard our heart, keeping it clear and clean, and how we begin to strengthen a good and upright spirit within us (Psalms 37:30-31).
We continue this process of ‘guarding’ our heart by doing what the psalmist did:
- With my whole heart have I sought You: O let me not wander from Your commandments. (Psalms 119:10)
- Your Word have I hidden [treasured] in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalms 119:11)
- And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I have loved. (Psalms 119:47)
We maintain this process of ‘guarding’ our heart by ‘looking into the perfect Law of Liberty [the Torah], and continuing in it, … and becoming a doer of it!’ (James 1:25)
By the way, the verses above from Proverbs 4 continue by revealing the wonderful rewards for keeping God’s Word in the center of our heart – a vibrant life that is healthy and strong (Proverbs 4:22).
Guarding #2 – Unite My Heart to Fear Your Name
Teach me Your Way, O Yahuwah [the LORD]; I will walk in Your truth: unite my heart to fear Your name. (Psalms 86:11)
This verse is one of King David’s prayers, who was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). David prayed for a teachable heart that would be focused and set entirely on Yahuwah, His ways, and His truth.
Every one of us is prone to a divided heart – a heart that wanders after a thousand different things. We are easily distracted and enticed by the ways of the world and our own selfish tendencies. A divided heart weakens our resolve to learn Yah’s ways and to please Him in all we do – “Teach me Your way. I will walk in Your truth.”
King David was a man who struggled with distractions, temptations, and persecutions. Yet deep in his heart, he loved Yahuwah! He yearned to follow Yahuwah with un-distracted devotion. David prayed for a united heart so that he could maintain his commitment and loyalty to the Father. David knew the great importance of a teachable heart that is united in honouring Yahuwah.
All of us have experienced trials and testings, shameful failures, and genuine victories, just as David did. But David prayed earnestly and continually. Ultimately he gained the treasure of a truly united heart.
King David’s prayer is for our example – to commit, and re-commit, ourselves to Father every day. We all need to pray for Father’s grace and strength to keep our heart united and focused, as we are seeking to learn Yahuwah’s Word, and to walk in His truth. Every day we must acknowledge our need for Him, and seek Him for a heart that is single, sincere, and united in devotion to Him.
As we saw in the above Ezekiel verse, one major way we can ‘walk in His truth’ is to begin to be obedient to the Fourth Commandment, by keeping God’s Sabbath Day separate as holy [hint: God’s weekly Sabbath is Saturday]. And as we discussed in The Sabbath Day is a Sign, observing the weekly Sabbath is an essential ingredient for walking in His ways! (Dear Reader, if this seems foreign to you, read Contending For the Faith and Let No Man Steal Your Crown.)
There are many more Scriptures that give us instruction on how to guard our heart. We have only scratched the surface here in this brief post.
Let us remember the warning: the lack of knowledge of Yahuwah’s Word and His ways has a devastating outcome for the people of Yah! Knowing the written Word of God and thereby obeying His Word is paramount in learning how to guard our heart and in living a life in harmony with God.
The ‘world’ snarls at our devotion to Yah’s written Word. The world’s endless ways of discrediting the Bible are as a roaring lion. But anyone who begins to sincerely do what the Bible teaches, will discover the absolute truth of the Scriptures. And, they will experience the awesome presence of the loving, eternal Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God]! (John 7:16-17)
That is why Thirsty Souls, ‘by patience in well-doing’, are seeking to do all we can to guard our heart. We thirst with desire to learn God’s ways, to walk in His truth, and to inherit the gift of God, which is Everlasting Life through Yahushua Messiah our Master (Romans 2:7; Romans 6:23).
May each one of us call out to Yah daily for His help to remember and heed these four tips as we diligently seek to ‘guard our heart‘.
- Acquiring a Teachable Heart
- Lead Me In Your Truth: Part 1 – The Basics
- The Key to the Holy Spirit’s Guidance
- Unite My Heart to Fear Your Name
- Preparing Our Heart to Seek God
- The Torah: The Key to Unlocking God’s Word
- Obeying Torah is Not About Salvation
- Let Me Not Wander From Your Commandments
- Thy Torah is My Delight