We don’t care for our hearts near enough.

…and that’s true in a number of ways.

I think it’s clear enough to all of us that our physical hearts are inescapably affected by the kinds of food we put in our mouths.  Unfortunately, it’s also clear enough why heart disease currently holds the title of number one killer.

Perhaps equally as clear – and perhaps equally as often ignored – is the state of our not-so-physical hearts.  This “heart” we’re talking about is the heart that embodies a huge part of who we are as people – our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and more.

We reference this heart often when we describe someone as having a “broken heart” or a “good heart,” and yet too often we fail to consider what needs to be done to care for our “hearts.”  We fail to understand that the things we allow into our lives – words, images, actions, thoughts – have the power to shape our “hearts” just as much as years of donuts and sugar cookies do.

This is so important that the Bible goes so far as to say:  “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23).

Above all else.  Yeah, it’s that important.  But, how do we do this?

Well, you can chase around as many fad diets as you’d like, but shows like Biggest Loser remind us often (as we sit on the couch eating a bowl of ice cream) that the simple things like watching what we eat and exercising regularly are the best ways to keep our physical hearts in shape.

Could it be that simple for our “other” hearts?  I think it can.  “Simple” is an interesting word here, though.  This is one of those times where something is simple enough to say, but not so simple to walk out.  After all, if eating right and exercise were simple to do, shows like Biggest Loser wouldn’t even exist.

The bottom line is this:  guarding our hearts, in both instances, takes intentionality.  There are tough decisions that have to be made on a daily basis.  We have to exercise self-control.  It takes discipline, and the determination to not give up.

So, what can we do to guard our “other” hearts?

Watch what you allow into your life.  Evaluate everything you’re involved in and ask yourself whether it’s helping or hindering you from becoming the person you want to be – the person God created you to be.  If it’s hindering, don’t tolerate it!  Be willing to do what’s necessary to get rid of it!

Take action to strengthen yourself against temptation.  Educate yourself.  Make note of the times when you feel most vulnerable to temptation and put up safeguards.  Have someone you can call or something you can do to take your mind off of the temptation.  Don’t walk the journey alone; find others to come alongside you (check this out).  Spend time strengthening your relationship with God.

Our culture is well aware of the dangers of physical heart disease and the urgent need to do something about it.  It’s time we also understood how critical it is to guard our other heart.  It cannot wait another day.  We have to start now.

What are the things that are standing in your way?