You need to guard your heart because everything that comes out of your mouth comes from your heart. If your heart is not in a good place, you may have a whole lot of junk come out of your mouth that you wish you could take back. Words can’t be unsaid. Acts can’t be undone.
We can try to monitor our words and our actions. We can modify, change what our initial impulse is to say and do. But one day, our monitoring and modifications will fail – and what’s in our heart will escape!
Four Warning Signs
There are four things especially to watch for and let these act as sentries to warn you when you need to deal with something you don’t want to deal with.
Guilt: When you notice a feeling of guilt, examine it. Is it justified? Do you owe someone something? Did you wrong someone? Guilt will eat away on the inside and cause all kinds of ugly things to come out…..one day.
Anger: This is an easy one to spot. But get to the heart of it — did someone take something from you? Does someone owe you big time? If you’ve been experiencing anger for a long time you may have to do some digging to find out the original source. Here’s the thing: anger doesn’t stay focused on the original person that hurt you. Anger leaks. It leaks all over the place. That’s what makes it so destructive. That’s also what can make it difficult to trace back to its origin.
Greed: This can be difficult to spot. There is a sense that “I owe me”. If you have an assumption that everything is for your own personal consumption, you might need to have an attitude shift. If you notice yourself wanting to hold tighter to a thing than to a person, that should send up warning lights! If you notice that you’re spending more time taking care of an object than of a person, that should send up warning lights. We may agree that people are more important than objects, but sometimes our actions betray us.
Jealousy: If you find yourself upset when someone else gets something you think you deserve, to keep your heart right, you need to address it. If you find yourself enjoying someone else’s loss or failure — that should set off big loud alarm bells!
OK, I’ve noticed the gunk – now what?
Jesus Christ did let us know how to address all of this. And the truth is, you can do these things without believing in Jesus. I share this, to help you have a better heart so what overflows from your heart will not hurt other people. It’s not easy to do these things. In fact, they are the exact opposite of what we want to do! I encourage you to do these things for your own benefit!
If you claim to follow Jesus, these aren’t optional. They are pretty much what he came to teach and following him means you follow his teaching.
Is guilt the problem? The solution is to confess.
Confess to the person you harmed. If that’s just too big a step, confess to someone close to you. As you work through it, you may eventually be able to confess to the right person. Will that cause harm and chaos in some situations? Yes. But the ongoing damage of carrying guilt is far greater. The immediate chaos that can result from confessing will dissipate, but there will also be an immediate peace that comes to you.
Is anger the problem? The solution is to forgive.
As I said, it can be hard to track down the original source of the wound. But track it down you must, the more detailed the better. And forgive in detail, with specifics. Forgiveness is really for YOU! It lets you stop carrying around something that continues to impact you all the time. The original hurt wasn’t as great as the way you’ve been carrying it around with you and letting is leak all over! Forgive and move on.
Is greed the problem? The solution is to give.
The more we give the less greedy we are. Generosity is a wonderful heart condition which spills over into all areas of our life. Giving is the best way to develop generosity. But if there is truly an object that is getting in the way of your relationships, it is best to just give it away! If your time and energy is spent on maintaining and protecting an object — imagine what you can do once that time is freed up!
Is jealousy the problem? The solution is to celebrate!
Yes, celebrate the person who got what you deserved! Just as what’s in the heart will eventually show itself in actions — our actions can actually modify our heart. If we are down and intentionally smile and pretend to be UP, it actually causes us to change how we feel.
We can have the feeling that “Life owes me” or “God owes me”. Out of these feelings can flow some pretty nasty things. Having gratitude for what you do have, praising God for what he’s already given you, gets rid of those feelings. Celebrating the one arousing jealousy, having an attitude of gratitude, shifts your heart and allows good things to overflow!
For parents, especially
Do you want to raise kids who are aware of how they are feeling? How about kids who can recogize the danger zones and take care of these four warning signs before they develop into a bad heart condition?
You can! On a regular basis – just ask! “How’s your heart? How are you feeling? Did you hurt anyone today? Did anyone hurt you? Did I break a promise to you?”
The more aware we are of what we’re feeling, the better able we are to protect and defend from troubling issues down the road.
You can help your child become aware, then you can gently guide through the process of addressing what’s troubling them.
Can you imagine how different your life would be if someone had taught you at an early age how to guard your heart?