"...for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth..."
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
"Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!"
"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"
You may wonder where I am going with those verses. Well, today we're going to talk about one of the most well-known phrases on the church scene. Yep, that's the one I'm talking about. Guard your hearts.
Any young man or woman in between the age of 11 and 21 has heard this phrase used at least a hundred times, maybe more depending on how involved they've been in youth group and Sunday school. I was never exposed to the "guard your hearts" phrase, because I quit attending Sunday school in 6th grade and didn't go back until 11th grade. In the meantime, I worked in nursery and helped in my parent's 1st grade Sunday school class.
When I first started going to the high school girls' Sunday school class, I got a heavy dose of the "guarding your heart" medicine. It got me to thinking...why do teachers and leaders and pastors use that phrase? Is it really biblical?
Oh, I know all about the verse in Proverbs that says this:
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."
I'm not saying that there isn't a verse that says that. It's pretty clear.
But are the teachers and leaders using this verse biblically?
The majority of the time when the teachers and leaders use this verse, what are they talking about? Guys or girls. How you shouldn't like a guy, or a girl. Am I right?
Did Solomon (or rather, God) really mean it in that way?
Our hearts are, by nature, ugly, dirty and filled with sin. When we get saved, the old things pass away and all things become new. So, we get a new heart. But our tendency is still to be sinful. We are that way because Adam and Eve sinned at the beginning of time.
We have to work hard to keep our hearts clean. They are not naturally blooming, blushing beauties. They just aren't.
To me, this verse means a lot more than just not liking someone. It goes a lot deeper than that.
You have to watch every word you say, for "out of the mouth flows that which fills the heart." You have to be careful what things you fill your mind with. Because that's what this verse is talking about. The reference to our hearts really means our minds.
You have to decide who you'll spend time with, what relationships you'll invest in. You have to make up your mind that you won't watch movies that are inappropriate.
Guarding our hearts shouldn't simply be about whether we like that guy or not; it should be about so much more. When someone guards their heart, they are making a conscience effort to be more like Christ. And that is, after all, our job.
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, and offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
...for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light...trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord...
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
So you may be asking yourself, or me, "If the guarding your heart verse isn't talking about liking a guy, is liking a guy okay?" Good question. At what point does liking a guy become a problem?
In all my 17 and a half years, I have only ever seriously like two guys. I have liked a few more than that, but never more than just liking them. You know there's a difference, right?
Here's the difference: with the other guys I have just "liked" it has been something as simple as, "he's cute." I might have thought about him, wrote about him in my journal, little things like that. The two guys that I seriously liked...well that's a different story.
I became emotionally involved with both of them. I spent time getting to know them and we were best friends. That made it so much harder when we stopped talking. With the first guy, we were both in denial and claimed we didn't like each other and it made our situation very awkward. We didn't talk to each other for several months.
With the second guy, I ended up "breaking up" with him because I knew we were too close.
Both of those times, I walked away with heartache, because I had gotten involved emotionally. The problem wasn't that I had initially liked them, but I let those feelings run away and carry me with them.
When your leaders or teachers are constantly telling you to guard your heart, they are not necessarily saying to never like a guy again. As a matter of fact, I guarantee you most of them would tell you that liking a guy is a normal part of life. God created us that way.
I don't hate myself because of the two "relationships" I have been in. I have learned a lot about life because of them. But my relationship with my parents, siblings and God would be stronger now if I hadn't wasted time like that. I got too caught up in what I wanted at the time and what "felt good", and ignored the conviction I felt and didn't care about guarding my heart.
Healing isn't easy once you've gotten involved in something emotionally. That's one of the reasons, I believe, that our leaders are so strongly urging us to guard our hearts. They understand how hard it is to watch over your heart, and keep yourself pure. They understand that it hurts when you get involved in something emotionally.
You have to make the decision to watch over your heart with all diligence, because every decision you make is going to come from the heart. While that's a little scary, because our hearts are not perfect, it's also promising, because we are learning together to be imitators of God, as beloved children.