And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

God’s desire for relationship and his love for you is the major theme of Scripture. His care about the condition of our hearts is preeminent in both Old and New Testaments.  The word heart occurs 862 times in the Bible.  Half of those times are mentioned in the Wisdom Literature and the Prophets.  It appears more than holy, blessed, or sacrifice. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV). The Hebrew translation of guard means to keep above all keepings.  So, above ALL you guard –  your marriage, family, bank account, passwords, your car or house –  guard your heart with more vigilance than anything else.

Joseph guarded his heart from his circumstances. Since he was continually looking to God for understanding he became better not bitter.  As a result, God showed favor to Joseph using his protected heart to save not only his father’s family and the nation of Israel but Egypt.  He knew to whom his heart belonged and gave him peace despite life’s desperate situations (Hebrews 12:14-15).  Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). This is why God insists on worship of him alone. It’s for our peace, enjoyment and rest as his sons or daughters. To worship anything else brings sorrow and destruction.  Fear and anxiety steal the peace of God in our hearts (1 Peter 5:7). Temptations insist we ignore the Spirit’s promptings in our minds (John 10:10). And, anything taking God’s rightful place in our lives is sin (Deuteronomy 4:8-10).

Guarding is a continual growing and maturing process. We must learn what it feels like to be protected by God’s peace, and stay there.  Learn to recognize and know what his voice sounds like and heed it. Learn his words to depend on in times of decision. We must guard our hearts from idolatry because the world and its ways want to crowd God out of our hearts (1 John 2:16).  Jesus shows us by example one strategy of guarding his heart. He  often went away to pray alone (Matthew 14:23, Luke 9:18, Matthew 6:46). Ponder how you can keep to the task of guarding your heart.   Find some solitude today and take a few moments of silent reverence before God with Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
-Psalm 51:7-12

By Donna Burns