Living as a single woman in Christ, there’s a real awareness of my heart, almost all the time. I know when it’s full. I know when it’s weak. I know when there’s room for others in it, and I know when it just needs some time alone. I’m careful with it and conscious of it. And the Lord commands me to guard it with all diligence.
Diligence? Yes, diligence. That means, “Careful and persistent work or effort.” There is work involved in this guarding; persistent and careful work. And as the years increase in number, this diligence to guard my heart seems to increase in importance.
But what does this actually mean? More specifically, what does it look like for a single person, seeking God, and desiring marriage?
The bible mentions the heart over 500 times. 500 times! I think it’s something we ought to pay close attention to. So let’s take a closer look at the Lord’s investment on the issue.
- The Lord sees my heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
- The Lord knows my heart. (Luke 16:15)
- The Lord searches my heart. (Jeremiah 17:10)
- The Lord renews my heart. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
- The Lord strengthens my heart. (Ephesians 3:16)
With all the caution I have guarded my heart with, I can confidently conclude that the Lord Himself cares about the condition of my heart more than I do. He wouldn’t have this much to say about it in His word if He didn’t. He wouldn’t make so many promises concerning it. He wouldn’t work so hard at making it better. And He certainly wouldn’t have sacrificed His son for it. God is so concerned with our hearts that we need not fear because He Himself is our guard. We just need to listen to His instructions.
God has put great value on our hearts, so how do we guard them as He instructs us to? As a single person it’s natural to want to guard my heart from being hurt. I haven’t given it away to anyone yet and I haven’t vowed to share with another. So I hold it tightly and make sure it’s well protected from any pain or ache. I set up a wall around it with no room for vulnerability and risk, ultimately too afraid to let anyone too close to it.
Is this what God was talking about when He told me to guard my heart with all diligence? I know it can't be, because of two things... 1.) I'm holding it too tightly. 2.) Fear is present in my plan.
So I look closely at scripture and ask the Lord for help…
Proverbs 4:23-27 (NASB)
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
Hmm... I don't see anything about protective walls in these verses. What I do see is that springs of life are flowing from my heart. There is no wall to stop that flow. In fact, for anything to flow there must be an opening for it to flow from.
I heard a message by Beth Moore a couple of years ago that completely turned upside down this idea of guarding my heart. I promise you, I never looked at it the same again. In it she talks about the Lord guarding His own heart from diminishing love. He doesn’t guard His heart FROM people… but He guards His heart FOR people.
Check out a piece of that message here…
Doesn’t that just blow your mind?!
Here’s where this gets really important to singles. I know the ups and downs of a single heart, devoted to Jesus, and desiring marriage. I know what it’s like to have a crush that ends up crushing you. I know what it’s like to be in a relationship that God never says, “yes” to. I know what it’s like to wait without any prospects and wonder if this is the place God wants to keep you. I know what its like to go to wedding after wedding wondering when it’s gonna be your turn. I know what it’s like when people ask you why you’re not married or even dating yet. I know. I promise you, I know.
I also know that all of these situations have a great affect on the condition of our hearts. There are far too many opportunities for the seeds of jealousy, bitterness, cynicism, division, self-pity, and pride to take root. These are the very things the Lord is instructing us to guard our hearts from. Because it’s just too easy sometimes. It’s too easy to say that guy (who happens to be your brother in Christ) is a jerk just because He’s not pursuing you. And too easy to talk about that girl (who happens to be your sister in Christ) behind her back because He’s pursuing her instead. It’s too easy to roll your eyes at the next couple you see holding hands at church. And too easy to secretly hope things don’t work out for them. It’s too easy to put on that fake smile and tell your friends how happy you are that they’ve found their soul mates. And far too easy to sit at home each night stewing in how you deserve what they have instead.
We are not too far from the corruption of love in our hearts. Be aware how easy it can creep in.
I know! That's heavy! But I also know it's TRUE! So how do we preserve the love of God in our hearts so that His love in us does not diminish? How do we bear fruit instead of sin? How do we keep the wall from going up and allow life and love to flow through, in, and out of us?
There is hope! I believe this Proverbs passage gives us some great insight. After we are told to guard our hearts with all diligence, the Lord follows with these commands:
1. Put away a deceitful mouth.
2. Put devious speech far from you.
3. Fix your eyes straight ahead (and not behind).
4. Watch the path your feet are on.
5. Turn your feet from evil.
When my mouth is filled with dishonesty and deceit about others, the love of God does not flow from me. When my eyes are not fixed on what’s ahead and dwell instead on the things of the past, there is not life springing up and out of me. When I look at someone else’s path instead of my own I am neglecting the fruit on my own path. My foot (where I'm walking) is turned toward evil instead.
These are our instructions. We need to be very alert to what comes out of our mouths when we feel the ache of disappointment. And by the grace of God we need to guard our minds from letting our flesh rule us. When it does, we need to ask for forgiveness and fight for a clean heart. This doesn’t mean we put up a wall so that we don’t get hurt. We will get hurt. And it’s ok. Because our Father in heaven sees, knows, searches, renews and strengthen us. His love toward us will not diminish!
And so with that…. the wall is lifted. And I am free to let this heart of mine love with great abandon. With all its risks and rewards. Let me be free from that which hardens the heart and instead be reminded that in all of its emotions, it is still working. The doors are open, and life (Christ) is flowing from me. Thank you Jesus, for making this your priority.
Blessing on the Journey,