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Proverbs 4:20-27
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23).

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Read Luke 4:1-15—the parable of the sower—and notice the central place the heart has in the story.

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How are you prone to try to please God by your acts, rather than loving Him with all your heart? How will you guard your heart today?

Christianity is a religion of the heart. Once God has our heart, the rest of life flows. To God, the heart is central.

A cursory glance at the Bible shows this to be true. God doesn’t look at external appearances but at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He despises religious acts devoid of worship from the heart (Isaiah 29:13). God searches our heart (Psalm 139:23) and wants us to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5). The essence of His law is to love Him and others with all of our heart (Matthew 22:37-39).

Jesus took the Pharisees to task for promoting a religion of deeds without the heart. They thought they could hate and lust all they liked, as long as they didn’t commit the acts of murder or adultery (Matthew 5:21-30, 43-48), but Jesus would have none of it. He said that our words and treasures reveal the true state of our hearts (Matthew 6:21, 12:34). And He promised to unleash rivers of life from within after we invited Him to reside there (John 7:37-38).

Our heart is our essence—the deepest part of what is truly us. It’s the wellspring from which our dreams, desires, passions, motives, thoughts, emotions, decisions, and actions arise. So it’s no wonder that Scripture says to guard it! Our heart really does “determine the course” of our lives—both here and beyond.

So, guard your heart. Guard it from idols. For the heart is the place where the God we worship speaks. The true God will call you to acts of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23), while all other gods—whether money, sex, or power—will lead you astray.

In the end, guarding our heart requires not building a fence around it, but having the true God within it—pushing all rivals out.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Exodus 5:1-23

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4 Responses to “guard your heart”

  1. Gene says:

    It seems that God always deals with the heart -all else stems from that. I tend to treat the symptoms in my life, that is, the actions and results of not having my heart in the right place. This definitely leads to becoming sidetracked. It is no accident Proverbs 4:23 in placed first in this proverb. Thanks, Sheridan, for these truths today.

  2. tom felten says:

    Love this line, Sheridan: “Guarding our heart requires not building a fence around it, but having the true God within it—pushing all rivals out.” I was talking with some young men just the other day about this idea. We discussed the reality that we can’t “will” ourselves to stop certain negative and sinful behaviors, but our deep love for God can prevent us from pursuing them. For in God we find a love and power that blows away all impostors.

  3. winn collier says:

    I love that distinction between building a fence and inviting God in.

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