Read: Proverbs 4:20-23, Psalms 16:5-6
In high school I worked in the bakery and deli department of a grocery store. In between dough prep, baking cookies, and washing dishes, I often sliced meat and cheese for customers. I had developed my patterns and knew my way around the kitchen and equipment so much so I could maneuver on auto pilot. But the problem with auto pilot is your guard isn’t always “on”. As I moved through auto pilot slicing meat for a customer I felt a sting in my thumb. I stopped to see why my thumb stung… I had nicked it on the slicer. I stopped the machine, and called the manager for help. I went to the sink to rinse it off and get a band aid so I could continue on with my responsibilities. Except, it wasn’t a nick that a band aid was going to fix. I had nearly sliced the tip of my thumb off. It took towels and lots of pressure to hold the bleeding while we traveled to the ER.
Fortunately, 8 stitches and several weeks of healing kept the tip of my thumb attached. I wore a metal guard on my thumb during the weeks ahead. This guard served to protect my thumb from bumps and squishes that would delay healing. I had to keep it out of water too. These stiches interrupted everything I did, but I didn’t mind because I wanted it healed. After that experience I checked the auto pilot at the door and was mighty mindful of where my fingers were the next time I sliced meat. I had fingers to protect.
Our heart needs that same kind of guard on it. A boundary that protects the tender places. What we think is a nick, might be more of a gash that leaves us bleeding and, well, sucking the life out of us.
I think we all know what guard means, but for the sake of words, what is it in Hebrew? A better word for this situation is watch, in the Proverbs 4:20-23 version NASB the word for guard is watch (which ends up being defined as guard).
The Hebrew word for watch in Proverbs 4:23 is Na.tsar, a verb- a.) to watch, guard, keep b.) to preserve, guard from dangers c.) to keep, observe, guard with fidelity d.) to guard or keep secret e.) to be kept close, be blockaded f.) watchman. Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, abridged by Larry Pierce. Sourced from Tyndale House, Cambridge.
If you have ever found yourself with your guard down and trenching through the consequences, you aren’t alone. Solomon, David’s son experienced the slow fade of letting his guard down. He started out strong, adhering to the truths in God’s word, and seeking to honor God in all he did. But soon, his intentional actions with God started slipping. Solomon ignored God’s warning about who He should marry. He married a foreign woman to make a security deal. He lost sight of God’s truth when he listened to the advice of his wives and their idols. And rather than keeps God’s word in his heart Solomon looked for satisfaction in wealth and power.
So, how do you guard your heart? Proverbs 4:20-23 gives a great running start.
• Pay attention to God’s word. -There are so many instructions and protective boundaries for life in the bible.
• Listen closely to what is being said in God’s word. - The enemy would love to twist what God says and distract you with a lie.
• Don’t lose sight of God’s truth. -When we haven’t seen something or interacted with it in a long time it’s hard to remember its character and features.
• Keep them in your heart. -Let the relationship you have with God, and truths from His word be the source of your actions every day.
When have you been ensnared from your guard being down?
Why was your guard down?
How did you get back on track?
Truth Takeaway: Guard your heart, it is the well spring of life.
Scripture Memory: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalms 16:6 HCSB