I was reminded of an Old Testament verse recently, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (NIV).” I don’t spend a lot of time in the book of Proverbs for reasons I haven’t really considered. Maybe it’s the wave after wave of words of advice that can be quite overwhelming. And come to think of it, there haven’t been any verses that have, up until now, stuck with me. But I recently met a nice girl who went to the trouble of having the verse tattooed on her arm. Now that’s a long term commitment. So, I thought I would take another look at the verse and taken by itself it is quite profound.
Do I guard my heart? No, I rarely, if ever, even think about my heart. It’s so much easier, at least for me, to think about the hearts of others. Maybe it’s because I tend to be compassionate by nature (here, I pat myself on the metaphorical back) and try to be a positive influence on other people’s lives. I like to be that guy, the one people can count on. Of course, the bonus of living out the Golden Rule is that it makes me feel good and feel relevant. That’s all well and good but if I let my heart die aren’t I committing a sort of spiritual suicide?
The first thing I have to remember is that it is OK to “guard my heart” as long as I don’t get caught up in a victimization mindset. How do I defend my heart without dwelling on the assaults on it? The second part of the verse is intriguing to me, “because it is the wellspring of life.” First, I must guard/ protect my heart against its enemies, but second, it’s the source of my ability to defend it. I’m thinking now about when J told the crowd that He came not only to give us life but abundant life. It appears that the writer of Proverbs is here foreshadowing the source behind “the wellspring of life,” the originator and the power and importantly, the renewing energy behind it. That’s an encouraging thought but not the end, I think.
We are told to guard our heart’s. That’s the command. We have the responsibility of guarding the heart given to us by God. The war, as we all know, is coming at us whether we want it to or not. So, as what typically happens, J starts with one thought to get me to another. It’s not about a victimization mindset, causing me to fight to survive but a victory mindset that there is a power already inside me, which was given to me by J. That is a comfort. J calls the one he sent the Comforter, after all.
I must guard my heart because it’s the wellspring and source of abundant life. My life. It’s a positive command for a more practical and purposeful way to approach the trials I/we face. And I can get behind that mindset.