Why you should guard your heart, and the four areas that might cause you problems

Maybe right now you’re still feeling the pain of past decisions…

HERE’S THE DEAL…sometimes we have to simply out live our mistakes…but at the same time we can prepare to make right choices based on new information.

I think we learn from scripture that there is one filing cabinet in our life that’s more important than anything else….Our heart.

Your heart is just like the storage on your computer, phone, or camera…you put things in it.

With that being said…let me ask you a question:

  • What’s at the center of your heart?
  • What have you put there?

Prov. 4:20 (NLT) – My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.

To pay attention is to listen carefully to the words of God.

The writer of this scripture wants his readers to do more than simply hear what he has to say. He also wants them to see and to understand what they are saying; and to retain what they are hearing and seeing in their heart. We need to keep God’s word in front of our eyes, where it will direct our path. We need to harbor His word in the very core of our heart, where it will be pumped to every part of our being. The verb tenses indicate that we have to actively maintain these commandments in our life.

Humans are prone to forget wisdom, to let it slip away; therefore, we must consciously guard it at all times.

If our heart is the thing that directs our steps…then it makes perfect sense to put the right things in it.

Scripture, the words of God, the commands of God, the precepts of God are the right things.

Proverbs 4:21 (NLT) – Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart,

God’s word needs to penetrate, to marinate in your heart…(like marinating a great steak, or cooking something in a crock pot)

  • God’s word changes your heart…it breaks it down…tenderizes it…infuses into it things that make you right with with God.
  • God’s word LEADS us in the right direction.
  • God’s word in our heart keeps us from sinning.

 Proverbs 4:22 (NLT) – for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.

It’s clear that hiding God’s word in our heart keeps us from bad things; but it also adds good things to us. Who doesn’t want life and healing?

The idea is this: wisdom is a remedy—a healing elixir—for poor and foolish decisions that often carry physical consequences. The spiritual comparison is in view here as well: wisdom will flow to all parts of an individual’s life and cure the whole person.

 Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) – Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

With all that being said, this scripture gives us the reason why we should guard what’s in our heart…Because it determines the course and direction of our life…

 Let me make a statement that I think clarifies the importance of this scripture…


That may be a very uncomfortable statement for some people to read. For others it probably validates some of your decisions. Nevertheless, our constant redirect in life should be the question, “what’s at the center of my heart?”

Because whatever is at the center of your heart is there, either because you allowed it to be there or because you put it there. But here’s the good news…if you find that you’ve put something wrong in your heart, you have the same ability to take it back out.

If you allowed something wrong in your heart, you have the power to revoke it’s access; and that’s what I hope you do today.

One resource that I highly recommend is a book by Andy Stanley called “enemies of the heart”…It’s awesome!

Here’s what to do next:

Since we don’t all have Andy’s book…let’s assess four things to look for that show us that the contents of our heart may need change…


If you are hung up with the feeling that you are never good enough…you probably are dealing with guilt. You need God’s word daily to redirect that feeling and bring it in line with truth.

If you are constantly or sometimes angry at someone for what they did or didn’t do…there is a heart issue that is only cured with a daily choice of forgiveness reinforced by scripture.

The next two are really hard to identify in yourself. In fact, you might even want to ask a trusted friend to help you on this…because greed says, “I really deserve more than what I got” or “I should’ve had that!”

A Christian with a greed problem might even look at someone else’s decision and spiritualize things by saying to themselves, “I could’ve stewarded that better”…either way it’s still just greed!

Finally there’s jealousy…which really holds hard feeling at God. Here’s what I mean…If you secretly have the conversation with yourself that says, “Why did God not DO more” or “why did God not give more” or “why did God not help me like He helped _____________”

You may have a jealousy heart issue…

But here’s the good news…

Let me ask one more time…

What’s at the center of your heart?



Larry Shankle is a pastor, author, and blogger. He helps people get clarity and direction in their calling, purpose, dreams, and leadership.

Larry and his wife (Amanda) live in the Arkansas river valley with their two boys (Braxton and Dawson). He has spent almost two decades in active local church ministry serving in multiple leadership roles. Larry has spent the last six and a half years serving as Lead Pastor of GrandviewChurch in Natural Dam, AR.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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