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Guarding Your Heart

I take my garbage to the street every Wednesday night to be picked up on Thursday morning. It sits on the driveway all night, completely unguarded. Why? Because it’s worthless. We don’t guard worthless things.

 Not so with your heart. It is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self—the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.

This is why Solomon says, “Guard your heart above all else.” He doesn’t say, “This is something you might want to do if you ever get around to it” or “It would be nice if you would do this.”  Solomon is emphatic.  He says, “Make it your top priority.”

When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone—one in which there are casualties. Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war. We have an enemy who is bent on our destruction. He not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him—including us.

Pastors are particularly at risk. An August 1, 2010 article in the New York Times reports that…

Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension, and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.

When I read that report, I was actually encouraged.  Even though I’m vulnerable to attacks on my heart physically and spiritually, I’m not by myself.   The Enemy uses all kinds of weapons to attack our heart. For me, these attacks often come in the form of some circumstance that leads to disappointment, discouragement, or even disillusionment.  I get tired of failure.  I’m weary of losing.  I am tempted to quit—to walk out of the ring and throw in the towel.

This week we’re beginning a new sermon series on Guarding Your Heart.  You might think I chose this theme because I want to synchronize it Valentine’s Day, which is coming up.  I do admit that the timing for beginning this series couldn’t be better. But this sermon series is not anything like a sweet, sentimental message that you might find in a Hallmark card.  It’s about dealing with the real issues of the heart—the core of who we are.