You’ve heard about Save the Whales and Save the Rainforests. Perhaps you know a Global Seed Vault exists as a fail safe protection against natural or man-made disasters. The Harvard Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts even houses the world’s rarest pigments to make sure their distinct colors are not lost. Whether it’s Save the Pygmy Frog, Save the Pigment, Save the World, or Save the Child, you’ll find groups of people to rally behind a cause they deem worthy of protection.
Closer to home, we lock our doors to protect our belongings and loved ones. At the same time, how often do we leave the doors wide open for the enemy to come charging into our homes and our lives? We warned our children about the subtlety of movies and books that could influence them in a harmful way. They would sometimes argue that a little bit of cussing and swearing wouldn’t bother them. They said it just goes in one ear and out the other. It was the same with movie scenes that were unfit for children or adults.
The truth is, what goes in, stays in. Our brains are hard-wired to remember things, especially things that are atracked to emotion. Be it grief or pain, horror or enticement, emotionally laden words and images chemically imprint themselves on our memory. Maybe you know from experience how seemingly impossible it is to “unsee” a gruesome or unwholesome image; how challenging it is to “unhear” coarse talk that works is its way into our vocabulary. The deeper the emotion, the more firm the imprint and more difficult to erase. Inviting some movies, books, talk, and habits into our lives is like leaving the door unlocked and wide open when we leave on vacation. We might as well put out a sign, “Thieves, help yourself.” Jesus himself warned, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Are you tired of having your joy and peace stolen by the chaos and corruption around you? Are you tired of marriages and families being destroyed by what seems to be the norm in an immoral culture? Have you sometimes found Jesus’ promise of a full, abundant life buried somewhere under an avalanche of pressing forces and influences that run contrary to your deepest values?
Consider the antidote:
Above all else, guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Of course, you know all these truths, don’t you? But are you applying them to protect your heart against bitterness, anger, greed, and corrupt thinking? (I’m examining myself as I ask.) Having asked God to make us a “new creation” and purify our heart and set it after his, are we guarding against the very things that threaten our peace and joy, or are we inviting divisive and coarse talk, immoral thinking, wasteful activities, and greed to establish strongholds within us? It’s one thing to know we should lock our doors against intruders. It’s another thing to actually do it and also guard the doors to our heart.
Perhaps our children thought we were being prudish in protecting them from the horribly bad influences of the world. But protecting your heart is not about being prudish. It’s about being prudent. It’s about protecting what is most valuable. It’s easy to be seduced by the dark side. It happens so subtly. One small indiscretion leads to another and then another, until we find ourselves thinking or doing what would earlier have been unimaginable to us.
If you’re looking for a good cause to support, something worthwhile to protect, then first protect your heart from the thief who threatens to steal your joy. Ask God, “Search my heart O Lord. Reveal what strongholds need demolished in my life. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Then actively guard your heart by what you let influence it.