Another word for “keep” in the above scripture would be “guard”. In fact, the Swahili version says, “Guard your heart above all the things that you guard; for out of it flow the issues of life.”
If we were asked to list the things that people guard or protect in this world, we simply could not. The list stretches all the way to infinity and back. Top on that list, of course, are our bank accounts – that is what we guard above all.
But the Bible does not talk about the earthly things that we so love to guard or protect. The Bible talks about guarding only one thing: our hearts. God is not bothered with our bank accounts as much as he is with the condition of our hearts. Our bank accounts and everything else of this world are temporal; but our hearts are eternal.
Men in this world do great and mighty feats, but they are easily defeated when it comes to guarding the heart. Personally, I believe that guarding one’s heart is the greatest achievement that a Christian can accomplish in this world. Why? Because the Bible says so: “Guard your heart above all things that you guard”!
What does it mean to guard your heart? It means making sure that sin does not stick to your heart the way dirt sticks to a surface when that surface has been left for a long time without being cleaned. I was once speaking with a lady and when I asked her how long she had been saved she told me, “Very many years.”
I told her, “You long types are the most dangerous Christians!” That shook her, of course, but I had been observing her and she was no different from the worst type of unbeliever. She may have been a pastor’s wife, a deaconess, or whatever; but it made no difference. She had a hard, unforgiving heart. I could see it in the way she handled people.
Guarding our hearts means being quick to let go of those things of this world that love to latch themselves onto our hearts. That requires humility and simplicity of heart. If you are the complicated type you will have a hard time in your walk with the Lord.
A few years ago, during a conference he held in Nairobi, Brother Miki Hardy said, “I have purposed never to hold anything against my wife, no matter what she does to me.”
I never forgot those words. I don’t know why he talked specifically about his wife, but with the current levels of divorce in church, I support him fully. In our day, it is clear that Satan has targeted marriage and the family in his war against God and the Church.
An old adage says that charity begins at home. It is the same Biblically. I cannot serve God effectively if my relationship with my wife is not one of true love.
My point has to do with purity of heart. In the Bible, we see that Abraham was quick to obey God. We established in an earlier post that Abraham’s obedience had to do with the attitude of his heart (See “Abraham’s Instant Obedience”). That being the case, I believe that we, as sons and daughters of Abraham, are called upon to be very quick in letting go of situations that try to hold onto our hearts. We should be quick to forgive, quick to repent, quick to let go that lustful desire; and quick to do anything and everything that we know will please the Lord.
Above all, we should take this world very lightly. There are some born-again believers who want to be a part of every detail of what is going in the world. They want to wallow in the world the way a pig wallows in the sludge. I know of some of my friends who, if they miss the evening news, to them it is like they have missed an appointment with Heaven!
This matter of the heart is all that should bother us, really. Jesus told the Jews, “The Kingdom of God is in you”. It is all in the heart. Unfortunately, I know of men of God, even in our country, whom God has enabled to have great ministries; but they carry things in their hearts. They carry anger, bitterness, unforgiveness; some even have cases in civil courts of law against fellow brethren.
Others speak and do things according to their own freedom. They are proud.
As Christians we are called to a very high standard of accountability to God. The measure for that standard is in our hearts. It is in the condition of our hearts. That is why the Bible says that God looks upon the heart. (When we get to heaven we will be surprised to find how far our standards of measurement were from God’s!)
But we do not need to wait till we get to heaven. Right here, under this new dispensation that we are living in, God has given us the means to live a life that pleases Him. It is by guarding our hearts.
I, too, like Brother Miki, have discovered the secret of living a joyous, victorious Christian life. It begins with my wife. Sometimes my wife does things that go against my pride, and I am tempted to “take action”! Much of the time, my pride tells me to make sure she is made painfully aware of how much she has hurt me; after which she has to be made to pay in full!
Well, there was a time I used to do that. In fact, I had perfected the art. My heart towards her was hard as a stone.
But the Lord showed me that this kind of attitude hurt me more than anybody else. The first consequence was that I would remain a spiritual babe all the time that I continued carrying this kind of attitude in my heart. Secondly, of course, was the fact that I had a weak, joyless Christian life. And lastly – shame! – I did not enjoy the great gift that my wife is.
Today, I have learned to quickly put my pride down whenever such a situation occurs. It is not easy, but the grace of God is there and sufficient enough for me to do just that. It all boils down to taking my cross and following Jesus. There are times indeed when I find it difficult to put down my pride. But these are rare indeed, and even then I know exactly what is required of me and how much I need to depend on the Holy Spirit to enable me to clear that situation.
Praise God for His ways! They are tough on the flesh – but refreshing to the soul!