Above All Else
Tim Clinton, Ed.D.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23 NIV
“Satan uses all kinds of weapons to attack our heart. For me, these attacks often come in the form of some circumstance that leads to disappointment, discouragement, or even disillusionment. In these situations, I am tempted to quit—to walk off the field and surrender.”
The Hebrew word for heart in Proverbs 4:23 is soul—the seat of appetites, emotions, and passions—our core self. Whichever way you interpret it, we are to keep it “Above all else.” Why? Because how we choose to guard our hearts against the vain philosophies, corruption, and hardness of the world will determine the course of our lives, “…everything you do flows from it”. The Hebrew connotation for the word guard in the above passage refers to the act of guarding someone closely as a Roman solider would guard a prisoner. Often a Roman soldier was charged with his life. If the prisoner escaped, the soldier would be killed. We are to guard our hearts with that same intensity— diligently, attentively, aggressively.
The apostle Peter said it another way:
“… Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . For if you do these things, you will never stumble… So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:5-8, 10, 12 NIV).
In other words, men, make every effort, make it an extreme priority to guard the truths of God’s Word that are planted in your heart. Keep focused on the right things. The enemy wants to strip away our joy; to accuse us in times when we are struggling with life’s trials. He would try to steal our faith in Christ in times of pain and suffering. This is when we have to rise up and guard our hearts. Remind ourselves to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” (1 Timothy 6:12 NKJ). In times of difficulty we need to hold onto our hope in the living God. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NKJ).
The enemy wants to distract us from our destiny. He is very real and is seeking to destroy us. Keep your guard up. As Peter warns, stick to the basics “even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth.” If we do, “will never fall.”
Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who recently married Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.
Posted on: March 21, 2017, 3 p.m.