by Kevin Burton
The good and bad diet and exercise habits that help determine how strong your physical heart is, have their equivalents in the spiritual realm.
That’s why the Bible warns us to guard our hearts.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life,” Prov. 4:23 NASB.
“When Solomon refers to guarding the heart, he really means the inner core of a person—the thoughts, feelings, desires, will, and choices that make that person who he/she is,” reads a passage on www.gotquestions.org. “The Bible tells us that our thoughts often dictate who we become. (Proverbs 23:7; 27:19)”
“Just as there are many diseases and disorders that can affect the physical heart, there are many ailments of the spiritual heart that can impair growth and development as a believer.”
“Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries due to accumulated cholesterol plaques and scarring in the artery walls. Hardening of the spiritual heart occurs when we are presented with God’s truth, and we refuse to acknowledge or accept it,” the passage reads.
“Although Egypt was stricken with one calamity after another when the pharaoh refused to release the Israelites from their bondage, he hardened his heart against the truth that God Almighty intended to deliver His people from Egypt (Exodus 7:22; 8:32; 9:34).
“There are many things that can harden the heart and lead a person to deny God, and just like cholesterol blocks blood flow, they keep a believer from having a free flow of God’s peace and blessings derived from obedience. Guarding against a rebellious spirit and cultivating a spirit of submissive obedience to God’s Word, therefore, is the first step in guarding the heart,” the passage reads.
“Heart murmurs are abnormal flow patterns due to faulty heart valves. Heart valves act as doors to prevent the backward flow of blood into the heart. Spiritual heart murmurs occur when believers engage in complaining, gossip, disputes, and contention. Believers are instructed many times to avoid grumbling, murmuring, and complaining (Exodus 16:3; John 6:43; Philippians 2:14).
“By engaging in these activities, believers shift their focus away from the plans, purposes, and past blessings of God to the things of the world. God sees this as a lack of faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
“Instead, Christians are instructed to strive for contentment in all things, trusting in God to provide what is needed in His good time (Hebrews 13:5). Guarding against a complaining spirit and cultivating a spirit of gratitude and trust is the second step toward guarding the heart.”
“Congestive heart failure is an inability of the heart to successfully pump blood through the body due to weaknesses within its walls. Congestive heart failure can result from hypertension (high blood pressure), myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), and abnormal enlargement of the heart. The spiritual equivalents are anger, giving in to temptation, and pride,” the passage reads.
“Anger acts like a poison on the body, both physically and spiritually, and makes believers more vulnerable to the temptation to hurt others with their actions and words. Ephesians 4:31–32 instructs, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
“Every Christian is locked in a constant, intense war with demonic forces. But many of us forget that much of our battle is not with external forces, but with our own mind and thoughts,” the passage reads.
James 1:14–16 tells us, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”
“Sin always begins in the mind. The first line of defense, therefore, must be to refuse to even contemplate a wrongful action. The apostle Paul tells us to take every thought captive, so that it conforms to the will of God (2 Corinthians 10:3–5).
“Pride was the first great sin of Satan, when he thought he could be like God and incited one third of the angels to attempt a coup in heaven (Ezekiel 28:17). For this reason, Satan was cast from heaven.”
“Satan also tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by appealing to her ego. Eve desired to be as wise as God, so she capitulated to Satan’s advice to eat of the fruit of the tree. Pride was, therefore, the downfall of man, as well,” the passage reads.
“Avoiding anger, pride, and temptation are also critical elements of guarding the heart. The apostle Paul instructs us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Dwelling on these things will help to build a guard fence around our hearts.”