The high school where I teach is huge. With 204 teachers, two buildings, and over 3,300 students, it’s bigger than some small towns. The parking lot is also large to accommodate both staff and upper-class students who have their own cars. As I pulled into the parking lot this past week, I noticed the freshly painted yellow lines that marked out the places where faculty should park and the white lines painted for students. I then thought of previous years when the lines were faded and grey. It occurred to me that painting lines is both the surest way to alert us where things are supposed to go as well as the quickest way to know when they aren’t where they should be. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts. We must paint the yellow lines of our hearts.
What Is the Heart?
A great blog by Bibles for America explains it perfectly. The heart is a combination of our mind (Matthew 9:4), will (Acts 11:23), emotions (John 16:22), and conscience (Hebrews 10:22). It’s the core of who we are and plays a very important role in both how we deal with the world and how we relate to God.
The Bible Says Guard Your Heart
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”Provers 4:23
The word “keep” is from the Hebrew word “nāṣar” (Strongs H5341) and means to observe or to guard. Proverbs 4:23 says we must carefully protect our hearts from things that don’t belong. After all, the verse continues, what we find inside our hearts will be expressed in other parts of our lives. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” And Proverbs 27:19 says, “As in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” In other words, whatever is in our hearts will be reflected in our lives.
No Lines Mean No Boundaries
At my school when all the lines were basically the same grey color, students often parked in the faulty parking area. For one thing, it’s a lot closer to the building. For another, there was nothing different about the lines to indicate that it might be wrong. That could make parking more difficult for teachers in the mornings.
Just like parking lots with no clear lines encourage people to park where they shouldn’t, hearts without boundaries allow for all kinds of things to defile us. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” We have to actively work against the flesh to keep our hearts pure.
Paint the Lines
Once the lines were painted at my school, there was an immediate visual difference in the two parking areas. Security personnel were then able to easily check the faculty section for cars with faculty tags. Any students’ cars found in the yellow areas could then be stickered and/or ticketed. This has caused a lot fewer incidents of students parking in the wrong place and has eased parking for teachers this year.
Just like parking lots with lines, our hearts should be clearly marked with boundaries as well. There should be set standards as to what belongs inside our hearts and what should be immediately noticed and removed. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit paint our lines. Psalm 119:9 says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy Word.” Here, taking heed is the Hebrew word “šāmar” (Strongs H8104). This word again means to observe or guard. We “cleanse our way” when we remove those things that don’t line up with God’s Word or aren’t pleasing to God, just like Proverbs 4:23 says.
Watch the Gates
At my school, we have three gates that allow entrance into our parking lot. One comes from one street and two from another. Teachers, students, and even parents dropping off kids all come into the gates, and it’s totally fine. It is only when cars start to park that it makes a difference who is driving the vehicle.
We, too, have gates. We have eye gates, the things that come in through our eyes, and ear gates, the things we hear. Lots of thoughts and ideas may come in, but we have to be very careful what we allow to stay. My pastor says, “It’s not a problem for a bird to fly over your head, but you don’t have to let him build a nest there.” We need to be in the habit of closely watching our thoughts and preventing the wrong kind from taking root. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Psalm 19:4 also gives us a specific prayer to pray to ask God to help us keep our hearts pure. It says, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Since school security guards can now see the difference between the two sections, they can verify which cars belong where. When they find a car that is in the wrong section, they are quick to act toward removal.
Hearts that are full of the Word of God have clearly marked lines. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Like a good security guard, the Holy Spirit can alert us to any problems with our hearts. We invite Him to speak to us when we pray Psalm 139:23-24. It says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Any time we see things about our thoughts, desires, or feelings that don’t line up with the things the Bible and the Holy Spirit have told us are pleasing to God, we must be quick to remove them. This frees up space for the things that should fill our hearts. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Proverbs 4:23 Says Guard Your Heart
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts. We paint the yellow lines by reading the Bible, praying, and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We watch the things coming into our eye gates and ear gates, taking every thought captive so nothing settles down into our hearts (our mind, will, and emotions) that isn’t what God would have us to think or be. Often, we must send security to check that everything parked in our hearts also lines up with the Word of God. In this way, our hearts will be open and available for God to fill us with the love and hope that will spread to the rest of our lives.
If you like analogies, try A Biblical Worldview Is a Christian’s North Star. It compares navigation by the stars to navigation by what the Bible says. Or, try 5 Lessons About Spiritual Warfare from Boxing. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email. Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.