Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

You are here

Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×
Downloads
MP3 Audio (21.13 MB)

Downloads

Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

MP3 Audio (21.13 MB)
×

Throughout the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, large numbers of people left farms and crowded into cities to find employment. This phenomenon was accompanied by an upsurge in criminal activity that intensified the need for personal protection. It was then that the idea of preventing crime rather than simply controlling it became a growing concept. This led to innovative security organizations, including one of the world’s most famous founded by Allan Pinkerton.

In the early 1840s Pinkerton became active in volunteer police work in northeastern Illinois. He was appointed a deputy sheriff in 1846, and three years later accepted a position as Chicago’s first police detective. After resigning from the police force in 1850, he established his private security and detective agency that later specialized in railroad theft incidents.

These four practical steps will assist you in protecting your heart from the evils and threats the that could defile and destroy you.

While investigating a case in 1861, Pinkerton became aware of a plot to kill Abraham Lincoln during a rail line stop on the journey to his first presidential inauguration. Pinkerton warned the incoming president about the threat and then modified the travel itinerary so Lincoln’s train proceeded to Washington, D.C., without incident.

During the U.S. Civil War, Pinkerton launched the Union Intelligence Service, which secretly gathered information on Confederate troop strength and movements. He also served periodically as Lincoln’s bodyguard. After hostilities ended in 1865, Pinkerton returned to Chicago to resume management of his growing security agency until his death in July 1884. Pinkerton’s, Inc., has since expanded into a $1.5 billion international organization providing a wide range of protective services. 

Since Allan Pinkerton’s time, security concerns have not diminished. Today, many businesses and families are accelerating efforts to guard against potential threats by installing fairly inexpensive wireless electronic security systems. Equipment included consists of door, window and motion sensors as well as surveillance cameras accessible remotely via a client’s smartphone.

Available also are loud sirens and automated communications devices, which include the services of remote alarm monitoring personnel who notify police of suspected break-ins.

Four critical spiritual qualities

While employing these or other measures to enhance your own security can be valuable, much more crucial is to look to God, relying on His promises to watch over those who trust in Him. Many biblical passages, including Psalms 121:1-8 Psalms 121:1-8 1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where comes my help. 2 My help comes from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. 3 He will not suffer your foot to be moved: he that keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper: the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil: he shall preserve your soul. 8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even for ever more.
American King James Version×
, attest to this key fact.

And yet beyond this, there is another vital defensive effort you ought to take that involves your entire mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version×
says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The New Living Translation expresses it this way: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Before learning what should be in your heart that ought to be protected so greatly, let’s briefly examine four critical spiritual qualities presented in this verse with the words keep, heart, diligent and issues.

1. Keep . Translated from the Hebrew word natsar, the term means “to guard or protect.” For example, you typically safeguard possessions having significant value or meaning such as a diamond engagement ring, a family heirloom or your smartphone. However, as Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version×
explains, you should especially protect what you hold in your heart.

2. Heart . The Hebrew word here, leb, typically refers to the “inner person, mind and will.” This denotes the central core of your emotional, intellectual and spiritual existence. Similar to how your fleshly human heart is indispensable in sustaining your physical life, the leb is used here as the source of everything that affects your well-being.

3. Diligence . The dictionary defines this as the “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken.” What may seem surprising however, is that the word is used to translate the Hebrew word mishmar, denoting a “place of confinement, jail or prison.” So in Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version×
diligence means you should guard your heart so conscientiously that it’s like keeping it under lock and key.

4. Issues . Derived from the Hebrew word totsaah, the word means “borders or boundaries.” It refers to the sum total of all that occurs in your life, including what you are, say and do.

What should be in your heart?

In view of these four words and their meanings, what should be in your heart that would hold such momentous value? What is it that God urges you to safeguard above everything else in your life?

To discover the answer, let’s examine Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version×
in the context of the entire chapter. Beginning in Proverbs 4:1-4 Proverbs 4:1-4 1 Hear, you children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. 2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake you not my law. 3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. 4 He taught me also, and said to me, Let your heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
American King James Version×
, King Solomon says: “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you good doctrine: do not forsake my law. When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: Let your heart retain my words ; keep my commands, and live” (emphasis added throughout).

Here, Solomon offers to his children important guiding principles that his own father King David had given him. And more than that, as inspired Scripture these are actually profound divine instructions from God to you regarding His priceless words.

Continuing in Proverbs 4:5-13 Proverbs 4:5-13 5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve you: love her, and she shall keep you. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote you: she shall bring you to honor, when you do embrace her. 9 She shall give to your head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to you. 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of your life shall be many. 11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. 12 When you go, your steps shall not be straitened; and when you run, you shall not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is your life.
American King James Version×
, we learn that wisdom is gained by cherishing and obeying God’s teachings. For instance, Proverbs 4:7 Proverbs 4:7Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.
American King James Version×
states: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” These values, if embraced and esteemed, will guard your life’s walk each day.

Next, in Proverbs 4:14-18 Proverbs 4:14-18 14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. 16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more to the perfect day.
American King James Version×
, Solomon advises his children about hazards they should sidestep. For instance, in Proverbs 4:14 Proverbs 4:14Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
American King James Version×
he says, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.” Likewise, God counsels you to avoid traveling down the road of sin because it results in suffering, anxiety and death.

More important than physical possessions

The king then makes a remarkable statement. He explains that his instructions are equivalent to life itself: “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart ; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:20-22 Proverbs 4:20-22 20 My son, attend to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the middle of your heart. 22 For they are life to those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
American King James Version×
). Solomon concludes his decisive remarks in Proverbs 4:24-27 Proverbs 4:24-27 24 Put away from you a fraudulent mouth, and perverse lips put far from you. 25 Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove your foot from evil.
American King James Version×
by summarizing his earlier statements about doing what is good and upright.

So, what should all this mean to you? It signals that guarding and cherishing God’s words and instructions is incalculably more important than treasuring earthly possessions, desires and achievements (Matthew 6:19-21 Matthew 6:19-21 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
American King James Version×
; Luke 12:15-21 Luke 12:15-21 15 And he said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses. 16 And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided? 21 So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
American King James Version×
; Romans 8:5-6 Romans 8:5-6 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
American King James Version×
).

Regarding this pivotal divine reality, let’s consider 2 Peter 1:2-4 2 Peter 1:2-4 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
. This passage not only mirrors what Proverbs 4 states about the blessings of living a virtuous physical life, but takes it to an even higher spiritual level.

As the apostle Peter states in verse 4, you have been given “exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature .”

This means that the knowledge you should cherish and guard goes well beyond how to live an upright earthly life. It’s also about the breathtaking eternal life you will experience with God in His coming Kingdom (Philippians 3:11 Philippians 3:11If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
American King James Version×
).

Just imagine! The mighty, immortal Creator of the entire universe wants you to be one of His very own divine children in His glorious, spiritual family (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
). How great is this knowledge! And how grateful you should be to know it (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
American King James Version×
; Psalms 139:17 Psalms 139:17How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
American King James Version×
).

But this requires much more of you than simply having a good and warm feeling about it. You need to also take decisive actions to prove that your admiration and devotion to God is wholly genuine. It necessitates that you repent of sin and mount a fervent, persistent campaign to expunge it from your life while replacing it with God’s own righteousness (Ephesians 4:24 Ephesians 4:24And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×
).

This can be accomplished only by allowing Jesus Christ to live His life within you each day through the power of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
; 2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
American King James Version×
). Plus, you need to hold tightly to the vision of the coming marvelous time when you will be changed from a physical human being into a holy, divine spirit being at Christ’s second coming (1 John 3:2-3 1 John 3:2-3 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
American King James Version×
).

It will take great spiritual energy and resolve to prepare yourself for that magnificent future of loving service as a king and priest in God’s prophesied earthly, global government (Revelation 1:6 Revelation 1:6And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 2:26 Revelation 2:26And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
American King James Version×
; Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×
).

How can you prepare successfully for this tremendous impending responsibility? It encompasses practical steps to treasure and protect the knowledge that God has so generously given you. It also involves guarding your heart against evils and threats that would try to destroy that unique understanding (2 Thessalonians 3:3 2 Thessalonians 3:3But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.
American King James Version×
).

Let’s cover briefly four practical methods that will help you to successfully prize and protect God’s flawless instruction and wisdom.

Four practical methods you can employ

1. Love God. To love God fully, take your cue from how you treasure the people you love. When you truly love others, you show your affection by spending time with them, helping them, doing thoughtful things for them and talking to them. In other words, you demonstrate your appreciation to those you care about by your actions. In reality, it’s much the same with your Creator. You can express your love for God by communicating with Him continually through zealous prayer and regular Bible study. To properly love God, you need to make Him and His words the focal point of your life (Deuteronomy 6:5-6 Deuteronomy 6:5-6 5 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
American King James Version×
).

2. Obey God. Loving and honoring your Creator and having a close relationship with Him requires your obedience to His commandments (Deuteronomy 11:1 Deuteronomy 11:1Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, always.
American King James Version×
; 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×
). God’s laws, which are described fully in His Word, were designed specifically so you can live a joyful, productive life (Deuteronomy 4:1 Deuteronomy 4:1Now therefore listen, O Israel, to the statutes and to the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers gives you.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 5:33 Deuteronomy 5:33You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 30:15-16 Deuteronomy 30:15-16 15 See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the LORD your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 32:45-47 Deuteronomy 32:45-47 45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel: 46 And he said to them, Set your hearts to all the words which I testify among you this day, which you shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing you shall prolong your days in the land, where you go over Jordan to possess it.
American King James Version×
).

3. Abhor evil. The Scriptures are clear that we live in a corrupt, degenerate age (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
American King James Version×
). Since sin in all its forms is completely repulsive to God, it’s essential that it be abhorrent to us also (Hebrews 1:9 Hebrews 1:9You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
American King James Version×
; Psalms 119:104 Psalms 119:104Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
American King James Version×
). Therefore you must be vigilant in safeguarding your heart from adverse influences. For example, while the Internet, movies, television, music, books and magazines can be used for good purposes, you should be especially careful to avoid their powerful negative influences.

4. Love the truth. Proverbs 23:23 Proverbs 23:23Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
American King James Version×
says to “buy the truth, and do not sell it”—that is, expend effort to learn it and never sell it away for anything. After having been granted the understanding of true biblical knowledge through God’s gracious and merciful calling, don’t let go of it no matter what happens (John 8:32 John 8:32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
American King James Version×
; 2 Thessalonians 2:10 2 Thessalonians 2:10And with all delusion of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
American King James Version×
).

These four practical steps are dynamic means of treasuring God and His perfect instruction and wisdom. They also assist you in protecting your heart from the evils and threats that could defile and destroy you. Plus they help you love and guard the great understanding God has given you regarding the astonishing future that awaits you.

Finally, as you recall some of the recent history of human security efforts, including the work of Allan Pinkerton, do everything you can to ensure your own personal physical safety with God’s powerful aid. But even more importantly, remember carefully and apply diligently the vital message of Proverbs 4:23 Proverbs 4:23Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
American King James Version×
: “Above all else, guard your heart.”