Protect Your Heart

Have you ever seen this phrase anywhere or heard it said? Lately, I’ve been seeing it everywhere on the streets of NJ and NY.

I wonder if people know what it really means? I know I sure didn't until I looked it up.

Protect your heart comes from a scripture that reads: “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23.

You know, I’ve heard a lot of people understand this to mean to protect yourselves from being hurt or disrespected. In reality, this scripture is so far from that advice.

What this verse is really asking you to do is to protect your heart from things that will make you birth ugliness into the world. I know, that is SO vague! What do I mean by that?

Well, let’s look at the rest of the verse. It says: above all else, “guard your heart, FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO FLOWS FROM IT.”

The recommendation to protect your heart is for the purpose of you breathing LIFE, GOODNESS and GRACE into the world. So, if we understand that as the purpose, then, we also know that what we are protecting our hearts from is: vileness, darkness and perspectives and emotions that cause us to react non-gracefully.

So, more specifically, what are we protecting against? I suspect that anger, jealousy, pride, superiority, covetousness are some of the emotions that would make that list. My point in listing a few of these out is not to call out character flaws but it is to help us understand that we have a REAL TASK at hand in trying to KEEP our hearts clean, loving and understanding. The connotation here is that it is WORK to keep our hearts loving because of all the distractions in  society pushing us in the opposite direction.

Have you ever said something really hurtful to someone? Where did that comment come from? Did ANGER produce that insult?

Luke 6:45 explains: “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Again, I’m not trying to condemn anyone because I am the FIRST person to get how vile my mouth can be. I am simply trying to illustrate that what we should be protecting against is NOT from being hurt. We protect our heart against getting to a place in MIND or SPIRIT where we HURT others or self.

Here’s another scripture that gives us a similar recommendation:

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32  

So, WHY am I even blogging about this today? Well, simply put: because I feel like I have failed in this area and I see our country failing similarly.

Today, a president that I SURELY didn’t vote for was sworn into office. The country feels so deeply divided. My body weeps as I see rioters destroy the imperfect country I so deeply adore. TRUST ME, I GET YOUR ANGER because I have been drowning in it for months now but I do NOT agree with these tactics. I refuse to let ANGER own my heart.

We fight hate with love. We fight darkness with light.

I love what our late MLK Jr. famously once said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Do we really think destroying our country and hurting each other with words or actions is going to produce good fruit? And, more importantly, if the main reason I didn’t endorse this president was because I felt his rhetoric was divisive and intolerant--wouldn’t I BECOME the thing I disapproved of by being equally insulting and intolerant?

I digress. My point is to have us EXAMINE what we are hosting in our hearts because FROM our hearts, our thoughts are formed and from our thoughts our behaviors are established.

This does not mean I do not state my dissent with this presidency but what it DOES MEAN is that I don’t ALLOW myself to produce rotten fruit because my heart is filled with bitterness.

In short, I leave us with one last quote. Since I have failed miserably in protecting my heart, this is my new standard for 2017:  

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

Going forward, I humbly ask you to ask yourselves what fruit your heart is producing? Is it: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control? Those are all fruits of the spirit and I pray that God gives me the strength to bring forth this fruit in this upcoming year because if I love my country and its people, they deserve nothing less.

My closing prayer: We love you God and your sheep know your voice. Supernaturally guard our hearts from things that may  hurt us and others. Help make us bearers of all that is noble, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy.” Amen.

~ Jen