New seasons in life, new friendships or new career opportunities can all be exciting, but they can also be terrifying. We invest our hearts in things we want and hope for. I know I do. However, I can’t invest my heart without emotions. Sometimes my emotions have nothing to do with reality. I constantly have to filter them through God’s truth to see what is real.
Part of the filter God gives us is spiritual armor. In a physical battle it is clear what equipment to use and how to use it to protect vital organs from injury. Yet, oftentimes, in the spiritual battle, we can leave ourselves exposed.
Pr 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
I used to think this scripture was about guarding my heart from people, circumstances or emotions. I recently read, You’re Already Amazing, by Holley Gerth, and I realized the only thing God wants me to guard my heart against is sin.
I’m not called to protect my heart from circumstances, feelings or relationships with others. All of these produce emotions in my heart. It would be ridiculous to try to protect my heart from the very thing it produces. Yet on many occasions I have tried to suppress, ignore, or even scold my emotions. When I am faced with moments in my life that catch me off guard, or make me anxious I immediately want to protect myself. I want to shield myself from potential disappointment.
It’s that moment when you make a bad decision at work and then, all of a sudden you imagine getting fired when in reality, the situation is completely fixable and no one really noticed. Or you see something on your recent crush’s Facebook page that sends your mind into some dark, ‘I’ll-just-be-alone-forever’ place. In reality you probably shouldn’t be Facebook stalking them in the first place. I know I’ve been there: a bad work out, a bad grade, someone’s comment taken out of context, or simply a plain, old bad day and we want to give up on hope. If I’m not grounded in who I am in God and fully armed for the spiritual battle I can easily let other things and people throw my emotions for a loop.
Php 4:7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It is through being rooted in God’s word, not my own strength, that my heart is protected. In doing so, I’m not protecting my heart from feeling fear, or disappointment, but from sin. Emotions are not sinful; it’s what we do with them. Sin can result if I act on those emotions instead of filtering them through His truth.
Eph 6:10-14 “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes[…]14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place[…]”
I protect my heart from sin by putting on the breastplate of righteousness. It’s my knowledge of who God is and His truths, that gives me the courage to accept and work through my emotions. His truths are that He loves me, He works for my good in His perfect timing, and He doesn’t withhold any good thing.
When my heart is protected the right way I’m not scared to risk hoping or dreaming. When He is my fortress I can be a prisoner of hope instead of my emotions.
Zech 9:12 Return to your fortress, O prisoner of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
Now being righteous is clearly not easy and sometimes emotions can cloud my motives. Knowing not only God’s promises, but His ways shows me what righteousness is. It may not always feel right, but if I act right the emotions will eventually follow and at the very least, keep me from acting a fool if I chose God’s wisdom over my own.
Jms 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.