I believe the phrase “guarding your heart” is misused.
Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Biblical guarding is guarding from contamination/anything that could taint one’s heart. I do not believe it is referring to the outward expression of love, but rather to what enters one’s heart.
Why do we need to guard our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts are DECEITFUL, which is why we need to bury God’s TRUTH in our hearts: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
When people refer to guarding their hearts, they often refer to guarding the outward expression of love (as opposed to guarding what enters the heart). I see immense wisdom in keeping things sacred. As followers of Christ we are called to love, and so what separates a friendship from a marriage? Intimacy. And intimacy is not merely physical—it is also spiritual and emotional. That established, true friendship involves HONESTY and TRUST. True friendship is two people SHARING life. True friendship is VULNERABLE.
Believers often live in bondage to legalism. Their actions are determined by rules. Boundaries are good if they are established through prayer and the guidance of the Word/Holy Spirit. Boundaries formed by man, however, are stifling and legalistic: “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:20-25).
And so, what does it mean to guard your heart? Bury God’s truth in your heart and guard your heart against contamination.
When you protect what enters your heart, you ultimately protect what leaves your heart. Your heart is the WELLSPRING OF LIFE. It is foolish to believe we merely need to guard what leaves our hearts! We need heart TRANSFORMATION. This broken world needs more love, not less.
And so, may we seek Christ. May He redeem our hearts for His glory, and may we love FULLY and FREELY.