Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
The “heart” is a significant theme throughout the Scriptures. We see that God is actually interested in the “circumcision” of the heart rather than the body, He promises to give us a new heart, and invites us to love Him with our whole heart in response to His loving us with all of His heart.
Modern Western culture values the mind and body (brain) over the heart. But the Scripture is clear that who we are, most truly and deeply, is not measured by what is in our brains but our hearts.
One of the ways to see the heart is as a reservoir, or a holding tank, or a well. Whichever “container” type language fits best for you, that is what the heart is like. Jesus said that people can bring out the goodness or wickedness stored within their hearts, and by what they speak you can see what has taken root in the center of them.
If you feel out of touch with what is going on in this deepest, most core part of you, just listen to your words. Jesus taught that from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
So, how do things get INTO the reservoir of the heart?
I am a work in progress with understanding this, but I will share what I have for now. I believe our 5 physical senses are the primary gateways into our being. What we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. John Bunyon, a guy who lived on earth in the 1600s and who lives on now in eternity, wrote an allegory in which he called the five senses “gates”…the ear gate, the eye gate, the mouth gate, the feel gate, the nose gate. They are simply entry points where we receive information or take in stimulus. John Bunyon’s thought was that the ear gate and the eye gate (what we hear and see) are the most significant gates.
After we take in information, I believe that the sifting place is the mind. We consider what we have experienced through our “gates” and we judge it as valuable, invaluable, true, not true, etc. This is why it is is so important to have the mind of Christ as enabled by the Holy Spirit, why it is essential for our minds to be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:2), and why God helps us by giving us not a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.
When information, or some kind of stimulation, comes in through the gates and has been sifted in the mind, then the information finds its resting place in the heart. This is a very simplified model, but I still think it is helpful to give a general idea of the movement of information we encounter in life.
One way to guard your heart is to give careful consideration to the type and amount of stimulation and information coming in through your “gates”. There is no rote formula for “how to guard your heart.” We each need to yield daily to the Lordship of Jesus, His preeminence in our lives, trust His shepherding and make space to hear his voice. We do not check in with a moral checklist, but a Person.
It looks like this:
Jesus, you are the fashioner of my five senses, the designer of my mind, the One who dreamed my heart into existence. These things were made by You and they are Yours. I lay down my rights to “consume” whatever I desire. Help me know what is beneficial and not beneficial for consumption in this season of life. You are good and You withhold no good thing from me. Since I am Your child I live in the abundance of Your household and You provide for me!! You provide for every need I have, and You love to do it! I can trust You because You always have my very best interest at heart. I trust You, Abba. I want to make more room for You in my life. I want You to have free reign of all of my faculties because moving in alignment with You is where I find True Life. I want to be close to You and know You more deeply (and MORE DEEPLY AND MORE DEEPLY!) Have Your way in every way in me.