Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. -Proverbs 4:23
This is a frequent question in our home. It’s normal. It’s inviting. We ask this question as an invitation to share what is really going on inside yourself. An invitation to share the thoughts rolling around in your mind. It is creating an environment where it is safe to open up and share. It shows the other person that while I have opinions that I would like to share, what is most important to me in this moment is how you are doing in your heart. Your heart is the only thing that matters.
This concept took us a while to figure out as parents, but as we read and learned it is now always on the forefront of our minds. In Luke 6:45 it says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”
Guard It: Protect and Nurture
The condition of a person’s heart is vitals, so that means that it matters what goes into the heart. It is our job as parents to be a gatekeeper for our child’s heart. But as they grow it is our job to turn over the keys and equip them to guard their heart for themselves.
The Hebrew word for guard has two meanings: to protect and to nurture. So guarding our hearts like Proverbs 4 has two parts for us to consider. The first is to guard and protect. The second is to nurture, feed, and invest in.
First we need to keep bad things out so that we can allow good things to grow. As parents there are many ways that we can guard our children’s hearts. It is crucial to limit what they see, hear and watch. This protects them from thoughts and pictures that are contrary to the Word of God in their hearts. In a future blog post we will be discussing how to do this in greater detail.
Another way to help our children guard their heart is to help them evaluate their thoughts. We need to teach them how to interpret words, thoughts and feelings correctly. Is what is spoken over them true or do they need to throw that opinion out? Is what they are feeling about themselves in line with how God sees them? Navigating our thoughts and feelings correctly leads to a healthy and holy heart. If we don’t, their hearts will be full of self doubt and fear. Our kids must protect their hearts from all of this!
The second meaning of Guard is to keep, nurture, feed and invest in. What things should we be nurturing and growing in our hearts? Well, the GE Power Company is a great place to start! Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are filled with verse after verse that will nurture your child’s mind. (When I was a kid and trying to remember the order of the books of the Bible someone taught me this trick…which might show my age! My husband says that GE is actually a multinational company providing equipment, solutions and services across the energy value chain from generation to consumption. But I like my acronym better.)
The following Scriptures from these four books of the Bible highlight the fruit that should be coming out of our hearts. Our words and actions are clear indicators of what is inside our hearts. It is important what we plant into our hearts and encourage them to grow. As you read these Scriptures ask Holy Spirit if He sees them in your own heart and in the heart of your children. Ask Him if there are one or two we should focus on to encourage us to grow stronger in our hearts.
Galatians 5:22-23: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Ephesians 4:17-24, 29, 31-32: With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy…Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them…Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Philippians 2:1-4, 12-15 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too…Dear friends, you always follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clear, innocent lives a children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
Colossians 3:1-3, 10-15: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God…Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Over the next few weeks we are going to explore different ways we can help our child, and ourselves, protect and nurture our hearts so that we can become more like Christ.
Side Note: Our church recently did a series called Guard your Heart, where our pastor goes into more depth about the two ways to guard your heart. We encourage you to check it out here!