February instinctively invites us to engage with the heart. Love is in the air. Stores don pink and red. Roses unfurl. Many good things vie for our affections, yet there is great value in pausing to assess what our hearts love most. Why? “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV). Because it’s what God cares about, it is prudent of us to assess the desires of our hearts on a regular basis.
So, as we enter the month ahead, consider these three questions to assess the health of your heart, and in turn, let God’s love take root freshly, enabling you to love others well.
- What objects capture my attention?
I am acutely aware of my divided heart. I long to focus my time and energy on the things that matter most in light of eternity but quickly become distracted by the cares of this world. Perhaps you can relate.
Throughout scripture, I find characters like Solomon, who provide relatable company. While Solomon was building the temple for the holy God, he was simultaneously building luxurious accommodations for himself and his wife. Worrying about what I will wear, how I look, or how much money I have tends to usurp the peace found in trusting God’s goodness. As much as I pride myself on multi-tasking, it becomes dangerous at the heart level, doesn’t it?
Psalm 119:37 has become a beloved verse for me through the years as I long for an undivided heart. It says, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
Perhaps you could list a few things that have captured your attention in this season. For starters, think about what you find yourself dwelling on each evening as you retire or each morning upon waking. Think about where most of your time, money and energy is spent. Ponder what causes anxiety to rise and your heart to beat faster. Ask:
What objects capture my attention in this season? Then, allow your answer to uncover and re-center your heart on Christ and His worthiness for your deepest desires.
- How can I guard my heart?
Guarding something like our heart can easily translate into safe boundaries or wise discernment. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But allow this verse to guide our guarding.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
It seems like a bold statement to declare that everything we do flows out of the desire of our hearts, and yet I know that to be true in my own life. What I long for determines how I spend my time, how I spend my money, and even what I choose to watch at night.
How about you? When you desire comfort, maybe you turn to food or entertainment. When you long for control, perhaps you pursue paths toward a desired outcome. When you wish for applause, there’s a good chance you are willing to strive and embrace sleepless nights in order to perform.
Mike Wilkerson, author of Redemption, says it this way, “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.” So, by guarding our wishes and wants from setting our affections on the next new and shiny fix, let’s be mindful this month where we can say no and, in turn, place healthy boundaries around our hearts.
Boundaries are not only to prevent what is coming in but also what is allowed out. Guarding our hearts allows us to protect what we consume and where our eyes are fixed. So, ask:
What is one way you can better guard your heart today? As you say no to something in his season, allow your heart to rest in the approval of your loving Father.
- Which words exit my mouth?
Many times, we fail to acknowledge how our mouths and our hearts are connected, but scripture speaks of their relationship time and time again, reminding us that words are actually an overflow of the heart.
Solomon speaks to this in Proverbs 10: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses…The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.” (Proverbs 10:11-14 ESV)
I am an eyewitness to the effect of my speech on others. The Bible reminds us that life and death lie in the power of the tongue. My words have wounded as well as wooed. Yet, Christ used his words to offer healing, love, understanding, and grace to those around him. In fact, it is how He speaks to us. So, ask:
What words exit my mouth on a regular basis, and what does that reveal about the health of my heart? We can be confident that as we focus on speaking truth to ourselves, it will naturally overflow to those around us.
So, let’s not give up seeking to love God and love others from a pure heart. Allow these questions to help you assess the health of your heart on an ongoing basis and lead you into greater intimacy with the God who, in the words of the Jesus Storybook Bible, loves you with a “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”