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What does the Bible say we should guard our hearts against? This post shares how to guard our heart from ourselves, others, and Satan.

Have you wondered what the Bible means when it tells us to guard our hearts? What should we guard our hearts against?

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Mark 12:30). In order to love God with our entire self, we must make sure our hearts are not divided by other things.

The best way to know if our hearts are divided is to ask the Lord.

“Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” Psalm 26:2

Did you know learning to guard your heart will help you manage negative emotions? About 10 months ago I didn’t understand how to guard my heart. I allowed my hurt feelings to affect my attitude and ruin my day. I wasn’t showing up in my life the way I wanted to show up—with peace, and complete confidence in God. If you have difficult and/or destructive people in your life, it’s easy to let hurt feelings take over and internalize negative comments and criticisms.

Learning to guard my heart helped me focus on God, remember who I am in Christ, and do the work God has called me to do. Click To Tweet

How do we recognize what’s dividing our hearts? The best way is to know what the Bible says we should guard our hearts against. I studied what the Bible says about this, and discovered three main areas we should guard our hearts against—ourselves, others, and Satan.

What does the Bible say we should guard our hearts against? This post shares how to guard our heart from ourselves, others, and Satan.

OURSELVES

Why should we be careful about following our hearts? 

Our culture encourages us to follow our hearts. But the Bible encourages us to follow God (Matthew 6:33). 

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things.

Proverbs 4:23 says above all else we should guard our hearts.

When we follow God and seek to know him, he will direct our hearts towards his purpose for our lives. 

Here are some areas we can be aware of when examining our hearts.

Hardened Hearts

Have you built a wall around your heart to protect yourself from getting hurt? While this may help to guard your heart, it may also be harmful if we allow our hearts to become hard towards others and towards God.

We can learn to set healthy boundaries in ways that protect our hearts from hardening and becoming bitter. 

Personal boundaries are meant to keep us healthy, not punish other people. If you need some guidance to know how to set healthy boundaries this Facebook page is an excellent resource.

God cares about your past hurts and wants you to be able to heal from them. When we allow God to heal our hurt hearts, he softens them and also helps us learn how to guard them in ways that are healthy for us and not destructive towards others.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

Bitterness is one sin that hardens our hearts. Feeling hurt by someone else’s actions is not a sin. Trying to restore a relationship by communicating your hurt in a healthy way helps your heart not become bitter. But what should you do when someone doesn’t care about your feelings or value you as a person? What should you do when conversations meant to reconcile escalate and turn toxic?

We may need to learn how to guard our hearts when someone continually hurts us, shows no concern about our feelings, and is unwilling to communicate in a healthy way. Click To Tweet

Part of guarding your heart is learning to find your strength and significance in God alone.

We need to be strong enough in the Lord to know our worth in Christ so that when people hurt us, our pain does not derail our day or our purpose on earth. Click To Tweet

Dear Lord, Please reveal to me any areas in my heart that I have hardened due to bitterness. Help me to learn healthy ways to guard my heart without becoming bitter. Amen

  • The heart knows its own bitterness. Proverbs 14:10
  • Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? James 3:11
  • The Lord says, Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. Psalm 95:8
  • Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:14

Divided hearts

Many things, both good and bad can divide our hearts.  Even when we are serving God in ministry, our passion can easily sway us into selfish motives and desires. 

Our hearts can even become divided by our desire for a relationship to be restored and healthy. The desire is good, but when the effort is one-sided, we can end up sidelined, struggling with our own mental well-being as we try and gain it from a healed relationship instead of God.

If the other person is not open to God’s softening work on their heart, no amount of praying or reading the Bible will change them. God always gives people a choice.

While I believe that God desires to restore marriages and unhealthy relationships, both people need to show effort, care, and concern toward healthy change.

God gives every person a choice to learn how to be healthy. Our health shouldn’t and doesn’t depend on someone else. We have to seek our own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

  • Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart. Psalm 119:2
  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Dear Lord, Please show me where my heart is divided and not wholly following you. What idols have I made and put before you in my life? Amen

Anxious Hearts

God cares about your struggle with anxiety and wants to help you manage it. As we learn to trust in God, we discover His trustworthy character, which helps us stay calm and rest in Him when we are anxious. We can learn to trust in God when we are afraid by learning what it means to fear God. When we fear God we gain perspective on our problems in comparison to God’s almighty power.

  • Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
  • So then banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body. Ecclesiastes 11:10

Dear Lord, Thank you for walking me through the times in my life when I am anxious, worried, and scared. You are always with me. You help me know that whatever happens, you will never leave my side. Amen

Troubled Hearts

Just like God understands the struggle with fear and anxiety, he also understands the troubles we face in this world.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

We can take heart and have peace in God when our hearts become divided and consumed by our troubles.

  • Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1
  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Dear Lord, It’s true. I let my heart become troubled so easily. I’m sorry, Lord. Thank you for caring about what troubles my heart and giving me peace. Amen

Evil Hearts

  • Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts? Jeremiah 4:14
  • Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13
  • He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person. Mark 7:20-23

Lord help me see the ways I have allowed evil to infiltrate my heart and my home. Help me to guard what I watch, listen to, and feed my mind with. Lord where there is sin in my heart, deceiving me from seeing your truth, show me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prideful Hearts

  • A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin. Proverbs 21:4
  • Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before the fall. Proverbs 16:18
  • The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” Obadiah 1:3

Dear Lord, The awful thing about pride is we don’t see it. Others do though. Holy Spirit show me where I am prideful. Help me to humble myself and lay my selfish ways aside so that I may reflect your character in my life and give glory to you. Amen

Our Thoughts

Our thoughts help form our attitudes and beliefs, and our attitudes and beliefs affect our actions.  The Bible encourages us to examine our thoughts. When they are out of line with the truth, we need to learn how to take them captive.

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:6
  • Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
  • We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
  • Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13
  • Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts? Jeremiah 4:14

Lord, Help me live my life with an eternal mindset. Reveal the thoughts that are out of line with your truth and help me correct the distorted ways I think. Show me how to make my thoughts obedient to you. 

False Beliefs

  • A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2
  • Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18

Lord as I learn to train my thoughts and change my distorted perceptions, help me form beliefs that are based on the truth of your Word. Give me a discerning spirit to know when I hear false doctrine that does not align with who you are and what your word says.

What We Say

  • But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. Matthew 15:18
  • You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart if full of. Matthew 12:34
  • So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire. James 3:5
  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:8
  • And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. James 3:6
  • Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
  • But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. Matthew 15:18

Get 50 Verses to Help You Communicate here.

Dear Lord, Help me to remember it’s more important to show up to situations reflecting the person I want to be. I don’t need to justify, argue, defend and explain when someone is not willing to have healthy communication. Teach me to set a guard over my mouth. May the words I say be pleasing to you. 

What We Do

  • Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26
  • I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11
  • Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path. Proverbs 23:19
  • As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19

Lord, help me to guard my actions. When I am tempted to react instead of respond, show me how to set a boundary for myself. I pray that my life would be a reflection of my love for you. Amen

OTHERS

Abuse

God doesn’t want anyone to be abused. He created us to be healthy. We must guard our hearts against abuse.

It takes two people to have a healthy marriage/relationship. But only you can work on your own health. If you are trying to live in an unhealthy marriage and you cannot be healthy in it, you need to make changes.

If you are dealing with safety issues please get help and remove yourself from danger.

If you are in an emotionally, spiritually, or financially abusive situation, I encourage you to follow Leslie Vernick’s Facebook page and listen to all of her free Facebook videos. Her videos will help you learn how to make changes. It’s easy to get stuck having a victim mindset and not see the power you have been given by God to make changes in your life.

Some people are difficult and some are destructive. It can be hard to tell the difference. If you are questioning this, seek help and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the reality of your situation and the best way to handle it.

There are ways to learn how to stay well and be healthy when you live with someone who may be difficult to get along with. 

My goal is to show up to difficult situations in a way that is obedient to God. This involves embracing change and getting rid of a victim mindset by taking control of my own health.

If someone doesn’t value your vulnerability and appreciate your desire to communicate in an effective and healthy way, then you need to guard your heart by protecting what you share and whom you share it with.

Although the context of Matthew 7:6 refers to sharing the gospel with others, I believe the principle remains the same in regards to having healthy communication.

Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6

I know setting boundaries can be confusing. Here are a few general boundaries I have set for myself and try to live by.

  1. I will not be yelled at, cussed at, called names, or demeaned. I will not yell, cuss, call names, or demean another person. I will walk away from conversations that are not healthy by leaving the room or going somewhere.
  2. If I am trying to communicate in a healthy way and the conversation is going in circles and/or escalating, I will stop trying to JADE—(Justify, Argue, Defend, and Explain) myself. I will allow the other person to think what they want about me and trust God with the truth of who I am and the situation at hand.
  3. If I am being vulnerable by sharing my emotions and hurt feelings in a healthy manner and the person is consistently ignoring, deflecting, or shaming me, I will start to guard my heart and be careful with what I share. I may warn the person that I feel this way and find it necessary to guard myself from being vulnerable and sharing my emotions with him/her.
  • Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Ecclesiastes 7:21
  • Defend the weak and the fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3
  • Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease. Proverbs 22:10
  • The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9
  • If a wise person contends with a foolish person, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace. Proverbs 29: 9
  • Blessed is the person who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. Psalm 1:1
  • I do not sit with persons of falsehood nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers and I will not sit with the wicked. Psalm 26: 4, 5

Dear Lord, Help me learn how to set healthy boundaries. When my feelings are hurt, I want to respond with the strength you give me and show up in a way that honors you and myself. Help me to live in the core strength you give me and walk in the truth of who you say I am. Thank you for caring about my emotional health and teaching me how to manage my thoughts and behavior. Amen

SATAN

We must guard our hearts against Satan’s tactics. Read 5 Ways to Stop Believing Satan’s Lies.

  • For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). 
  • Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Lord help me to be able to discern when Satan is trying to discourage me. Show me when Satan is dividing and causing strife. Strip me of my pride and help me walk in the power of your Holy Spirit.

False Teachers

We must guard our hearts against false teachers. Satan uses false teachers to sway us from believing sound doctrine.

Matthew 24 paints a chilling picture of what Jesus told his disciples the last days would be like. He said:

  • At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm in the end will be saved. And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24 10-14
  • Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instructions. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist. 2 Timothy 4:2-5

Susie Larson’s latest book, Strong in Battle shares the. importance of having discernment when calling out false teachers. We must be careful not to throw around the false teacher title toward fellow believers when we have theological differences about nonessential issues. Larson says,

“We need to discern the fleshly departures in ourselves as clearly as we try to determine them in others. In fact, if someone claims to be in-the-know about everyone else but rarely looks at themself, they are not as discerning as they may imagine. Maturity involves a growing capacity not only to discern evil counterfeits but also to perceive genuine movements of God. Even when they’re outside our comfort zone.”

I hope this post helps you discern areas where God is leading you to guard your heart. I would love for you to share in the comment section what you have learned about guarding your heart. 

Dear Lord, It’s scary how so many people have strayed from the truth of your Word. I stand upon the Holy Bible. Give me discernment to detect false teachers and leaders who are distorting the truth found in your Word. Help me distinguish the difference between my own personal bias, personal experience, and cultural comforts and what’s actually in opposition to you. 

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