The walls in my younger daughter’s bedroom are kind of bare. We (aka my husband) painted them several months ago, but she’s being very thoughtful about what she puts up to decorate the space. On Friday, she asked to search online for some wall art with quotes that she could hang on her walls – a little daily inspiration, if you will.
We shop for about everything else on Amazon, so I let her start there. Then we headed over to Etsy. I helped her start the search, and couldn’t believe that the first row of wall art quotes that showed up had one with filthy language on it. I’d thought it would be a relatively safe search for us to do together, but obviously I was wrong. I know that stuff is out there, but I just didn’t expect it in that arena.
In the same way, sin can slip into my life unexpectedly. From the magazines I read to the television shows I watch to the music I play to the conversations I have with friends, I have to guard my heart from the evil that is present in our world. If I’m desiring to be a wise woman, I’ll want to pursue and surround myself with what is uplifting, encouraging, and pleasing to God.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” My attitudes and actions will be determined by what I allow to infiltrate my thought life. My desires are born out of what I dwell on, along with the ideas and principles that I embrace.
If God’s Word tells me to be diligent about guarding my heart, I can know that it must be constantly under attack. So what can I do to guard my heart?
1. Pray for discernment. Part of being wise is realizing what I don’t know. God, through His Word and through the Holy Spirit, can give me discernment regarding areas in which I need to guard my heart. Hebrews 5:14 talks about how a mature Christian has his/her senses exercised to discern both good and evil. As I pray for God’s help, He can show me an activity or a thought process that I need to remove from – or add to – my life.
2. Evaluate what influences I allow in my life. If I’m going to guard my heart, I need to be aware of ways in which I’m being influenced. Just a few verses after we’re admonished to guard our heart, we’re told to “ponder the path of thy feet.” [Proverbs 4:26] Is there a place I go that causes me to do things I shouldn’t? Do I notice that when I’m with a certain friend, I tend to gossip or fall into a critical spirit? Is a movie I watch promoting a lifestyle that’s opposed to what I know from the Bible? Look at the positive side, too. Hopefully, the music I’m listening to promotes praising and worshiping God. It’s good to consistently have a devotional time to focus my thoughts on learning more about Christ.
3. Use God’s Word to set personal boundaries. Once I’ve evaluated the influences, I need to carefully determine what I can do (or not do) to keep wrong influences away from my heart. Your heart includes your mind and your thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” For example, Philippians 4:8 tells me exactly what type of thoughts I should have – those that are honest, pure, praise-worthy, etc. Therefore, when my thoughts don’t line up with those guidelines, I need to pray for God’s help to overcome my sinful thoughts. Finding principles in Scripture that I can use as a litmus test for my thoughts and actions will help me to guard my heart.
4. Lean on the Holy Spirit for support. I seem to get worked up about things more in this season of life than I ever have before – and it’s often about trivial stuff. In those moments, it’s not the fruit of the Spirit that I’m exhibiting! Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self control – if those were present in my life at all times, my heat would be in good shape!! Ask the Holy Spirit to allow His fruit to be present in your life, then refuse to let yourself get carried away by your emotions.
This fourth in our 7 Steps to Becoming a Wise Woman takes action on our part! This week, let’s be vigilant about protecting our hearts and make sure we surround ourselves with positive influences that will keep our minds focused on growing in wisdom. (And if you know of a good source for wall art quotes, let me know ’cause we’re still in the market!)