Water Of Life

How many of you have ever heard the phrase guard your heart? It’s used often in the Christian community, usually in the context of protecting yourself from getting too involved in a relationship or situation that would be harmful. The idea of guarding something will inevitably invoke some imagery in your mind, so what do you picture? A tall fence surrounding your heart? A wall? Flaming swords? All of those would make sense. After all, to guard something means to protect it from an outside force. However, I believe that when we were commanded to guard our hearts, scripturally speaking, the purpose behind it was a little different than the way that we conventionally think about it and I want to share that with you this week.

Proverbs 4:23 is likely where the saying comes from and it says, 

“Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

I want you to notice the reasoning the Bible gives us here. We’re supposed to guard our hearts because of what is supposed to flow out of them: the springs of life. When we “guard our hearts,” I think there is great danger in being so afraid of allowing something in that shouldn’t be there that we put walls up that God never intended for us to have. If there’s a wall, nothing is coming in, but nothing is going out either! That is actually the exact opposite of the Lord’s intention in commanding us to guard our hearts.

In John 4:14 Jesus said, 

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus explained further in John 7:37-39 exactly what that spring is. He said, 

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, the One who hovered over the water at creation, breathed life into Adam and Eve, and raised Jesus from the dead, makes His home in us and it’s through our hearts that He flows into a broken humanity. Over and over again, the Bible talks about the river of the Holy Spirit and that river flows out of us.

Guarding our hearts is important, but it’s not because we need to be afraid of being hurt or emotionally wounded which is what the idea has turned into in many cases. When you are constantly thinking of guarding your heart as if it’s something that is tender or easily swayed and in need of protection, you will live closed off from the world God loves. Now, this is not to say there aren’t relationships we may need to cut off or situations from which we need to be removed. There will inevitable be those times! However, in those circumstances the Holy Spirit is the One who will direct, guide, and protect you.  

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, "But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

Philippians 4:7 says,  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God is the One who guards you, as you walk with Him. You don’t need to constantly live in fear and defensiveness of your own heart. He is more than able to keep us safe. Guarding our hearts, in the Biblical sense, is not about closing ourselves off and putting up a wall. It’s about living in holiness, diligently guarding the purity of the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As I’ve heard it said, we have to protect the Holy Spirit that protects us! Paul told Timothy several times in his letters to “guard the good deposit entrusted to him” (1 Tim. 6:20, 2 Tim 1:3; 14).

Water is a type of the Holy Spirit because it’s absolutely necessary for life. We can’t go more than a few days without water and our planet only sustains life because of water. Our spiritual life is no different, as we are completely and totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. He is compared to a river because He is constantly moving, desiring to flow like water from His church out to a desperate world. If a river stops, you know there’s a problem and the only way the river of the Holy Spirit can stop flowing in your life is if you allow something to come into your heart and block it up! In Jeremiah 2:13-15, God rebukes His children for this very thing. He said,  

“Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. [They] have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

What did God rebuke them for? Forsaking Him and going after the gods of the land. They turned from the fountain of His Spirit and sought life from their own, broken cisterns – leaking containers that would only hold stagnant water at their best. They exchanged their glory, the presence and power of almighty God, for that which would ultimately destroy them. This is why God commands us to guard our hearts—to keep from allowing something in that would ultimately stop up the flow of His presence in our lives.  Psalm 119:9 tells us plainly how to keep this from happening!

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”

His Word is the greatest guard that we could ever know. It’s a sword, a fire, and a hammer. His word will convict us, protect us, and ensure that we are in line with Him so that the purity of His Spirit flows in us, free and unhindered. The river of the Holy Spirit brings His presence and with it joy, healing, peace, prosperity, and everything else that Jesus died for us to have. When you think of guarding your heart, don’t think of a heart locked behind a wall, but a pure river flowing from a throne, through you, into a world desperate for a touch from Him! Revelation 22:1-2, 17 says it best:

‘Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations…The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’

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