7th Dec 2012, by Timothy Tai
In Part 1 of this article, we learned the ONE thing that King Solomon said that we must do above all else, and that is to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
While guarding our belongings and keeping our money under lock and keys with us become second nature to us, tragically the same cannot be said about guarding our hearts. And that’s why we have all paid the price for failing to guard our ‘well-spring of life’. Broken relationships –bitterness, backsliding, adultery and even murder– are among the very real consequences of unguarded hearts and you don’t have to look very far to find proof of that in the bible.
Let’s start with Judas Iscariot. Everyone knows about how he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Some think that his love of money turned him from a disciple into a traitor (We know from John 12:6 that Judas was in charge of the moneybag and he would often steal from it). Other scholars believe Judas betrayed Jesus because he was disillusioned that Jesus did not overthrow the Roman ruler of Israel. Whatever his reasons were, there is no doubt where his motives came from:
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him…– John 13:2 (KJV)
Next, let’s look at the one who wrote Proverbs 4:32, King Solomon himself. He started off his life so well when he asked God for wisdom at the beginning of his reign as king. God was so pleased with Solomon that He gave him not just wisdom, but riches and honor as well. Apparently, even the wisest man in the world need to guard his own heart because 1 Kings 11:4-6 tells us what happened when Solomon didn’t follow his own advice:
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely as David his father had done.
As a consequence of that, God tore the kingdom away from Solomon and gave it to one of his subordinates.
Finally, there’s King David who the bible describes as a man after God’s own heart. Even he failed to guard his heart when he saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing from the roof of his palace. We all know the details of what transpired next because 2 Samuel 11 tells us of how he committed adultery with Bathsheba and plotted the murder of her husband.
However, did you know that David committed adultery with Bathsheba long before she was brought to his chambers? Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-28.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (NKJV)
David committed adultery with Bathsheba FIRSTLY in his heart! And because he did not guard his heart against those lustful thoughts, he simply acted out from the things that had already happened in the well-spring of his life.
So we arrive now at the million dollar question: HOW THEN DO WE GUARD OUR HEARTS? Here’s what God’s word has to say:
1. Pay attention to your heart
For starters, we have to pay attention to the things that go on into our hearts. We need to stop entertaining any wrong thoughts that we think in our hearts and take them captive as 2 Corinthians teaches us:
2 Corinthians 10:15 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2. Align your heart to God’s word
Due to the wayward nature of our hearts and the seductive nature of the world in which we live, we constantly need to realign our heart and our way of thinking to God’s word.
Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3. Trust God with all your heart
Oftentimes, it is when we suffer tragedy in our lives that our hearts are most susceptible to questioning God. It is exactly at those dark and painful moments that we need to trust God all the more.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.
4. Always strive to guard our heart
To conclude, guarding our hearts is something that we’ll always have to strive to do so long as we live on this side of eternity. And the truth is, we’ll most likely let our guards down more than we’d like to admit. However, just as we can learn from David’s mistake, we can also learn from what he did right after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin. He repented and asked God to create in him a clean heart as he wrote in Psalm 51:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.– Psalm 51:10 &11
Above all else, may we guard our hearts with vigilance and may we be quick to go to God whenever we fall short.