In the last post in this series on the heart, we touched briefly on this verse that describes how God’s Word recognizes the centrality of the human heart in the human experience. Because the heart is central, the Word calls us to “guard your heart.”
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Everything begins here. The heart holds the seeds for all the fruit that blossoms or decays in our experienced reality. If we want to find the cause for our troubles, we go to the heart. If we want to find healing, we go to the heart. If we want to build strong, quality lives, we must first go to the heart.
Above all else, guard your heart.
The word guard comes from a Hebrew word that did not mean to simply protect and hide. It is the same word used when Adam and Eve were charged to keep the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). Guard means to preserve, protect, observe, to give attention. There is an implication that, like a garden, the heart should be made better through our proper stewardship of it.
Scripture defines the human heart as deep waters difficult to fully grasp and understand. From those deep waters, our unique personalities and response systems to the circumstances of life emerge.
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.
Proverbs 20:5 (NIV)
The longer I live, the more I marvel at the nature of the human heart. Children raised in the same household, by the same parents, experiencing the same history together, emerge as entirely unique human beings. One laughs, where another one cries. One shrinks back while another presses forward. Even while young, when their personal experience is minimal, a child demonstrates unique complexity and individual depth.
Over the years, I have observed siblings who experienced the same events within their childhood homes but interpreted and responded to those events differently. For one child, a specific event was barely noted and brushed off; for another, the same event was traumatic and life-altering. The waters of the human heart run deep and in the mysteries of those waters comes forth through individual identity, perspective, and the shape of life itself.
As life goes on and more experiences are accumulated, many of those experiences hold the potential for incredible trauma and personal devastation. Loss. Betrayal. Disappointment. Failure. Jesus warned that offenses or issues that cause people to stumble are inevitable (Luke 17:1). However, the truer threat of such experiences is not in the historical reality of the experience itself. It is in the danger that wounds and traumatic events present to the human heart. Those deep waters can become warped and damaged.
Part of the charge to guard our hearts involves learning the pathway of restoration and healing for the heart when we encounter trauma. We must learn to come before God and let the healing power of His Spirit and His Word touch us in the deep waters of the heart. We must master actions of forgiveness, faith, and trust in God that goes beyond our body and intellect and all the way to the deep waters of our heart. Such mastery is not achieved overnight. It is a lifelong process that is built through a daily walk with God.
The heart is who we truly are. It is in the inner code. It can be wounded. It can also be healed. It can be strengthened, renewed, and even changed.
The heart requires deliberate management. The heart is vulnerable not only to trauma but also to the unseen effects of sin, rebellion, and wickedness. These are toxins to the human heart. They cloud our judgment with guilt and shame. Like Adam (Genesis 3:10), they drive us to hide from God rather than run to the One who can heal, restore, and save us.
In the next few posts and podcasts here at the website, we will examine this reality of the human heart. We will consider what the Bible says about the human heart and how this reality of life with God from the heart operates.