In Proverbs 4:23, we read: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Yes, but how do you guard your heart? If you are like me, then you have wondered. I read this verse dozens of times in my youth, determining that God wanted me to be very careful about what I chose to watch or listen to, to be careful about the friends I hung around and the places I went. I thought to guard your heart meant to post my strength and willpower like twin sentinels at Buckingham Palace, armed and ready to stop Temptation from entering my heart’s gate.
All of this is true, but as I moved into adulthood, I found that Temptation wasn’t the only one trying to get into my heart. Stress was knocking at the door, also. Often, I let it in.
Have you let Stress become a guest, too? Then you and I may need to think of guarding our hearts in a whole new way. The good news is that it may be easier than we thought. What does this verse say about the process?
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Read this and be comforted: His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
How’s that for the deal of a lifetime? We bring God our worrisome needs and our humble gratitude, and He gives us Peace as a steadfast guard for our inner selves. His peace will guard our hearts and minds. We don’t have to be the guards anymore. We don’t have to max out our strength and willpower, trying to keep Temptation and Stress and who-knows-what-else locked outside. Instead, all we have to do is fall to our knees. Which is exactly what I want to do because, by now, I’m exhausted from trying to guard my heart by myself. Aren’t you?
Peace is a heart-guard that functions like a gift card. Just because someone gives you a restaurant gift card this Christmas, doesn’t mean you are full and satisfied. You won’t be until you cash it in. You can walk around with that gift card in your pocket all day long and stay hungry. You won’t receive the benefit of the gift until you go to the restaurant and ask for what you need. Then, just like that! The table will be set before you. And you will walk away full.
Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you — peace of mind and heart. And my peace is a gift that the world cannot give” (John 14:27). He has given us the gift of peace, dear friend, but it is like a gift card in our pockets until we come to the table and ask for what we need.
Then, we will walk away full.