I want to talk about something close to my heart. It is the need to guard our hearts. “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it proceed the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23.
What does it mean to guard our heart? Recently I felt like my heart was broken. My heart has been broken many times over in my life. How do I respond to a broken heart? I allow myself to grieve. It’s alright to feel the pain.
Sometimes our heart is broken because of injustice, or what we perceive to be injustice. Even injustices in the past that we did not personally experience. Or injustices in other countries. Or injustice that has happened to other people.
We are in a dangerous place when our heart is broken. The easy response is to become bitter. There are so many things we can become bitter about in the world.
In the Bible we read the story of how Cain became bitter towards his brother Abel. Cain’s heart was broken because the sacrifice he offered was not acceptable to God, while his brother Abel’s sacrifice was received by God. Pain can quickly turn to anger and this is what happened in this story.
When we become bitter, we instinctively want to cause pain or even destroy the people who caused the pain. Cain ended up killing his own brother.
God warned Cain when he noted that Cain’s “countenance was darkened.” He told Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door and it desires to have you.” Cain ended up yielding to this influence, despite the warning.
The Bible instructs us not to let a root of bitterness grow in our hearts. This can apply to any situation that disturbs us, past or present.
Guarding our hearts means we don’t allow our hearts to harden towards other people or people groups. We can separate the sin from the sinner. We can still pray for the tyrant leader, or the molester, or the hater.
Our pain does not have to cause us to become insensitive and uncaring like the ones who caused the pain. Neither does our pain need to cause us to turn bitter against God when we think he is unjust.
God’s response to those who question his justice is found in the book of Job, chapter 38, “Where were you when….” I love Job’s faithful response, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” Job 13:15. He was saying, God you can do whatever you choose to do in my life, I will still serve you. This is ultimate faith.
Cain’s real anger was towards God. And if we look deeply inside ourselves we will see we are no different.
Let’s guard our hearts from growing cold and loveless towards people and towards God. Instead, embrace a soft heart, a heart that can be broken and continue to love. I have found that this is actually the path to healing.