“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
An old Methodist Catechism has this question and answer in one section:
“Q: Can we turn our own heart to believe the gospel, and love it?
A: No, we must pray for grace to turn our heart.”
I am convinced by observing my own heart that this truth doesn’t only apply to turning our hearts to believe and love the gospel, but turning our hearts to do any good at all. Jesus said that apart from him we can do nothing. What he meant was that we could do nothing truly good or of eternal value apart from him. We all do many things apart from Christ, and those things are of no value in the kingdom of God. Sadly, these Christ-less acts hinder the advancement of God’s kingdom.
This command to “guard our hearts” is one of those things I am fully convinced I cannot do without Christ. I know I can be ever so diligent to watch my heart, but within a few hours I stray into earthly thinking, planning and walking. I’m not here talking about sinful transgression; I’m talking about living and seeking to do good without a full and desperate dependence on my Maker, which I guess is the very source of all transgression. I find that my “heart is more deceitful than anything else,” and I can’t understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). I am persuaded that the statement, “Unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain” could faithfully be changed to, “Unless the Lord watches over my heart, I, the watchman stay alert in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
We know that God expects His commands to be fully obeyed (Ps119:4) so we must guard our hearts. but there is only one way I know how to do it. I must cry out by the Holy Spirit at various times of the day, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalms 39:23-24).
Guard your heart by recognizing that only He can guard your heart. Don’t imagine that you can navigate through the deceptive corruption that is called your “heart.” Call upon God to save you from yourself and your “wisdom,” your “righteousness,” and your “sincerity.” Don’t cry out once or twice and then coast along self-deceived; cry out without ceasing, “God save me! God help me! God lead me!”
“Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)