Struggling to Know God's Will? How is Your Heart?

An Unguarded Heart equals Not Knowing the Will of God!

Proverbs 4:20-23
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

God woke me up this morning and caused me to read and ponder on the subject of an unguarded heart. I began reading “Living Beyond the Daily Grind” by Charles R. Swindoll which is where most of the information I write here comes from. I would suggest reading his section on the unguarded heart if you want more thoughts and insights on this amazing passage of Scripture.

The subject of an unguarded heart is very dear to me because I teach this concept to young women in my seminars and show them how to ask the Lord for HIM to be the center of their affections. I ask the Lord everyday to guard my heart from anything or anyone who might try to steal my affection.

These are good things. But as I began to do a little more study and reading and thinking on this passage, I discovered the idea of an unguarded heart is much more than simply a concept of whether or not your heart is staying pure in relationships.

Let me explain…

The word “heart” that is found in the writings of Solomon in Proverbs is never a reference to the internal organ that pumps blood. This word “heart” is the word labe which simply means our “deepest inner being”. The heart, “labe” is the center of the mind, will and emotions…the very core of our being. This way of using the word “heart” is not uncommon throughout Scripture, for the word “labe” is used almost 100 times in the book of Proverbs alone!

Look with me at verse 23 in the New American Standard Bible:

“Watch over your heart with all diligence,
for from it flow the springs of life.”

There are three significant points found in this verse:

  1. “Watch over” a direct command to anyone who has a heart (meaning a mind, will and emotions)
  2. “with ALL diligence” a direct precedence…this command should never be done half way.
  3. “for from it” a direct reason for the command of watching over.

Keep these three points in mind as we now turn our attention to some significant key words found in this verse.

In Hebrew, whatever phrase is found first in a verse is the most important of that passage. In the Hebrew, this verse begins this way: “More than all else” or “Above all else”. So we may accurately read this verse knowing that God is emphatic that whatever other concepts may be found in this verse, God holds it in great esteem: “Above all else”.

With this thought in mind, we move to the next part of the verse which tells us that we are to watch closely…very closely…above all else. In the Hebrew this phrase to “watch over” is the word “nah-tzaar” meaning to keep, to protect, and to preserve.

And what, above all else are we to watch closely in order to protect and preserve? Our heart. Another way of writing this part of the verse as a loose paraphrase of the Hebrew might be something like this:

“Above all else that should be watched closely for protection, it is your heart…your mind, will and emotions…”

And why is this such an importance in the eyes of God?

The word “for” in verse 23 of the NASB could just as easily be the word “because” and if we read the verse with the word “because” we now have an obvious answer to our question: “why?”

Because from within the heart something very significant takes place. Look again at the Hebrew for yet another word: “springs”. It’s equivalent in Hebrew mo-tzah means source, direction or way.

Putting all of this together with our new-found knowledge, we see that the reason the heart is to be protected above all else is because the heart is where the Lord directs a person’s life.

What this small, yet powerful verse in Proverbs is challenging it’s readers to do is to keep their hearts protected and responsive to God. Why? Because from within the heart comes God’s personal direction for each life.

WOW! I never thought about this verse in this way before! Let’s write a loose paraphrase of this verse using all the Hebrew meanings we have learned:

“Above all else that should be watched closely for protection, it is your heart…your mind, will and emotions…let it always be sensitive and preserved because from within your heart comes God’s direction for your life.”

In other words, your heart is what God speaks to when He desires you to understand His will for your life. And to God, this is the most important thing (above all else!): to have your heart always ready to hear from Him, to be sensitive to Him, and to be willing to hear His direction for your life and act upon it.

If our hearts are self-focused and only interested in doing the will of ourselves, we put ourselves in a position to miss out on hearing God’s will for us at that time, because our hearts were not in a place to listen. Our hearts must be in a position to hear God’s will before He will reveal it to us.

And now the personal question: what is the position of your heart? Is it bent on fulfilling your own will? Or is it ready to hear from the Lord? Does your heart have top priority to be protected and sensitive to God’s will?

May God cause us to take what we have learned…to heart.