Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV)
Lately the pressures of family, ministry, work, and school have caused my emotions to spill outward. The interesting thing is most of what’s coming out isn’t new. It’s all old feelings that I’ve tried to bury in my heart through the years. As I’m going through these experiences, I’ve resolved to do my best to express my feelings rather than suppress them. Honestly, this decision has made my mind clearer and my heart lighter. Here’s how you can do it too.
Keep or guard your heart. It means to be aware of your heart and feelings. It means to pay attention to your emotional state. To guard your heart well, you’ll need a healthy and accurate emotional vocabulary. You need to know the subtle differences between anger, frustration, and disappointment for example and know when you’re feeling each one. This will give you the ability to address your feelings correctly rather than waiting for them to fade and take up residence in your heart.
Guard your heart with diligence. The word used for diligence here in the scripture literally means to imprison or jail. Years ago I directed a ministry to a juvenile detention facility. One of the first things you learn is security seeks to keep inmates from going out but they’re just as diligent about monitoring what’s brought inside. Everyday items like paper clips, staples, and even plastic cutlery could be used by detainees to harm themselves or harm the officers. There was always a strong officer on duty ready to search any bags if needed.
We must have the same diligence when it comes to our hearts. The baggage of everyday life has to be checked at the door by a strong dose of truth from God’s word and consistent prayer. Discouragement, depression, anger, hatred, unforgiveness, and any thing else you can think of just walks right into our hearts when there is no truth with which to compare it. When these emotional challenges get a foothold in our hearts, they eventually become our issues in life. Under the right circumstances with the right pressure, they flow out of us in ways that hurt others and ourselves.
When we guard our hearts, keeping damaging emotions out by accepting the truth of God’s word, we will find the issues of life are easier to deal with. Instead of our hearts being a source of negative issues, we will become a source of healthy, positive attitudes and emotions.