Thursday, February 17

Guarding Your Heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. --Proverbs 4:23

Five years ago, I went on my first date with the man who is now my husband. Before I met him, I had done my best to be very careful about the decisions I made when it came to dating. Although I'm not one of those people who "kissed dating goodbye" until God made it perfectly clear that I had met my future spouse, I also didn't think that dating relationships were something to be taken lightly. I knew that finding God's best for me meant that I needed to guard my heart.

What is so important about the heart and why does it need to be guarded? Are we supposed to protect our "blood pumping muscle" (as comedian Mark Lowry would put it) or are we to protect our figurative heart which is the innermost of us, along with our souls. What exactly is this verse referring to when it speaks of a wellspring?

A wellspring is just what it sounds like. A well of water that springs up is a wellspring. It is a continuous supply of water. A wellspring can refer to more than just water, as we see in this verse from Proverbs. We must protect our heart, because life is what springs from it. As I think about the physical heart and the metaphorical heart, I see even more clearly the wisdom of Solomon's proverb. Not only is the heart a biological wellspring, but also a spiritual and emotional one.

In order to be a wellspring, our hearts must have some source of flow. That is why it is important to guard and preserve our hearts. If we allow our hearts to become polluted, then whatever springs out of it will also be bad. In a similar way, a field that is irrigated with polluted grounwater will never be able to thrive because the water wasn't pure in the first place. (Can you tell that I'm an environmental scientist?) Likewise, if we try to fill our hearts with things that aren't good, eventually our lives will become useless and empty.

When it comes to relationship with other people, especially dating relationships, it is important that you not attempt to fill your heart with things that could potentially damage it. If you carelessly give away too much of it too soon, you won't have much left to cultivate a thriving relationship with the right person later on. It is also easy to make the mistake of believing that a certain someone will be able to give you the type of life-fulfilling joy that only a relationship with God can give you.

God wants to be the source of the wellspring in our hearts. When we allow him to take first place in our lives, we are protecting our wellspring. When Christ is prominently seated in our hearts, he gives us the wisdom to proceed in other relationships. It is important to center our goals and desires on the things that are pleasing to God. As your heart's wellspring pours out, you'll be able to cultivate the fruit of the spirit, including love. If you try to water love from a polluted wellspring, chances are it won't grow very well.

When my husband and I were dating, we made certain that the love that grew was being watered by the wellspring that came from our individual relationships with Christ. As a result, we not only grew closer to each other, but closer to God. By guarding our hearts, we made ourselves available for God to bless us abundantly, and our life is the better for it.

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