(just a few summarized thoughts from Brad Clarke’s talk this past weekend)

We go to great lengths to protect the things we value. We protect our phones, we protect our cars and homes (via alarms and insurance), we protect our computers and tablets, we protect our eyes (sun glasses), our skin (sun screen), etc. In sports we use some handy pieces of equipment to protect certain parts of our body: shoulder pads, knee pads, helmets, chest protectors, and the all important jock strap.

There is one very important part of our body the scriptures urge us to protect – our heart. As important as our physical heart is, it’s our metaphorical heart (inner most being) that Solomon is talking about. The part of us that reflects who we are and what drives the things we do.

Proverbs 4:23 says, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Eugene Peterson paraphrases it like this, Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”

I guess we might say that life begins and ends with and in your heart. Anything good we do, anything bad we do, comes from our heart. It starts there and moves outward. It was Jesus who said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)

So when Solomon says ‘Guard your Heart’ it’s because he knows how essential our heart is to determining who we are. The Bible is full of failed examples when it comes to this. Adam, Eve, Moses, David, Solomon himself, and others. When they let their guard down, things went down hill. Jesus, our best example, set up boundaries around his heart, which, along with other factors, led to his impact and influence. In the wilderness, Satan tried to get to him, to distract him, to knock him off course – Jesus didn’t budge. He stayed the course, protected his own heart, his own mission, his own purpose, and went on to accomplish what he came to do.

You have only one heart. That’s it. And it’s that heart which defines the course for your life. Ensure its safety, its purity, its wholeness, its strength. Don’t just give it away to anyone or anything. Well, you can give it to God. He’s been known to take hearts of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh. But he does ask us to guard it so that he can work in it and through it.

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small(er) group questions:
– Just for fun. What do you love? What do you value? Give the tip of your tongue answer and then the more profound answer. How do you protect it in some way shape or form?
– Read Proverbs 4:20-27 together. What are some initial take a ways? What jumps out at you?
– What makes our heart vulnerable to intrusion? To pain? To failure? To attacks?
– How do Jesus’ words in Luke 6 ring true? Out of the heart the mouth speaks. 
– What are some steps we can take to guard our hearts? Some practical, some spiritual?
– Any final thoughts on this? Anything to pray for in light of this?