Guarding Your Heart…On Purpose
Amanda, how do I guard my heart in a world that wants to rip me apart? This is the question that has been asked of me several times this month. A few years ago my husband and I began the Every Man’s/Woman’s Battle with our college group. This study has prompted many late-night conversations, and I have been able to see, first hand, the pain that these women are going through. At first I thought it was only a “single gal’s” struggle, but the more I have pondered this question, the more I realize that it affects women in all stages of life. There is a battle going on in Christian women, and it is the battle for the heart’s affections. We are bombarded with television, social media, text messages, and not to mention the visual sights of just driving down the interstate. Even if we want to put filters around our minds and hearts, the world does not make it easy for us. But, God has given us answers in His Word to help us as we seek to be women of integrity.
Proverbs 4 is a chapter dedicated to a father giving his son wise instructions. Towards the end of that chapter, Solomon writes, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov 4:23) The NIV says, “Above all else, guard your heart…” (emphasis added) Now that I am a mother, I can envision me telling my daughters this very command. “Makaylan and Hannah, above all else, whatever you do, please guard your heart!” I will admit that conceptually understanding this verse is much easier to accomplish than actually allowing this truth to be a reality in your life. In order to guard your heart, there are certain steps that we must take, and they are not always easy.
First, we must set up a defense system.
Whenever a soldier goes into battle, he first has a battle plan. It would be naïve and foolish to go against the enemy without first knowing how you will fight and what weapons you will use to fight him. For a Christian woman, our defense system is God’s word. Proverbs 4:20-21 tells us to “be attentive” to God’s commands and to “keep them within your heart.” In talking to these young women, I have noticed that most of them do not know what God’s word says about their dating relationship, their choices in movies, their choices in clothing, and etc. In a sense, they are going into the battle unprepared. The only thing that can protect our heart from the lies of the enemy is first knowing what God’s word says. I often find myself asking the questions found in Philippians 4:8. Paul says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Is the relationship you are in a God-honoring relationship? If not, then get out of it. Is the movie, book, or website you are looking at pure? If not, then confess it as sin, stop looking at it, and ask someone to hold you accountable for your media choices. Are the clothes you’re wearing bringing honor and praise to God or to self? If you are dressing to gain attention for yourself and get that “next look” from a guy, then please let me encourage you to dress in a way that shows respect for yourself and your fellow brothers in Christ. Knowing God’s Word is the key to understanding our enemy, Satan, and knowing how to stand against him.
Secondly, we must stand our ground.
Once we have put up our defense system, then we must make sure to stand our ground against the attacks of the enemy. Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” This picture is one of a person who is not easily moved. It is so easy for the world to grab our attention away from God and His plans for our life. It is much easier to guard our hearts when our hearts and minds are fixed on Christ, and we refuse to allow the world to intrude. One way that I have found effective in standing my ground against the enemy is to enlist accountability partners and/or mentors to come alongside me. It is easier to stand when I know that someone is standing with me.
As a young mother, I daily encounter situations that I do not understand or even know what to do. When my daughter was at the beginning of the “Terrific Two” stage of being a toddler, it was often difficult to see past the here-and-now. The enemy attacks my mind and causes me to question my parenting and disciplining skills, and I have to fight off the lie that I am a terrible mother. It is times like these where I am so grateful for older women who have gone through this season and encourage me to press through it. I am learning to guard my heart against this lie and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb 12:2). God has a plan for me (shaping me to look like Christ), and He has a plan for my precious daughter. (She is going to be a leader one day…I just know it!!)
Finally, we must persevere to the end.
Guarding our hearts is a continuous battle. During a battle, the one who perseveres is the one who wins. In talking with my college girls, they often want to know when they will not struggle with this issue. My response: The day you go to be with the Lord. Guarding your heart is not a younger gal’s issue or a wiser gal’s issue, it is a human issue. But it is a battle that can be won. Proverbs 4:26-27 says, “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
The Christian walk is a walk that takes a lifetime. Right now, many of my college girls are struggling with guarding their hearts against the emotional pendulum that comes in dating relationships. But, soon their hearts will turn to other matters, and it will be just as important for them to guard their hearts during that season. Learning to not “swerve to the right or to the left” on issues, whether it is dating relationships, parenting, friendships, working environment, or entertainment choices, it is a lifelong and daily commitment that takes perseverance. We will persevere if we fill our minds with God’s word, enlist someone to stand with us through either an accountability relationship or a discipleship relationship, and then purposefully “turn [our] foot way from evil.” God is for us, and He will help us to persevere.
Guarding our hearts is something we do on purpose. We cannot fill our minds with worldly things and then be surprised when we fall into sin. Instead, we need to be so captivated with God that we do not desire anything or anyone else. My prayer for us is that we would be women of integrity who stand up to the enemy and take back our heart’s affections. God has some amazing plans for us if we keep our eyes completely fixed upon Him and refuse to allow the enemy to win the battle over our hearts (Jer 29:11-14).