Keeping Your Joy – Guard your Heart

The influences we absorb from the world around us are abundant and many affect us without us even realising. Many of these influences are harmless but many can have a serious affect on our emotions, belief and joy. The Bible tells us to guard your heart to keep your joy.

How to do family ministry by being real

It’s scary isn’t it how easily we can be influenced by the subliminal messages we are bombarded with every day?

For example, do you own something which is personalised? A bottle of Coke? A phone with a sweet cover on it? A car with a set of personalised options?

Personalisation is big with the marketing companies at the moment because it sells. We have bought into the idea of products representing a of our personalities. They say a little about who we are. We have been influenced to believe that personalisation is good and it says something about ourselves.

Now, if you happen to have bought a Coke bottle with your name on it, it probably won’t have done you any harm and you will have parted with a small amount of money to experience the fun of drinking Coke from your very own bottle. Unless you’re called Apple and have searched the shelves in vain – and quite frankly you can blame your parents!

Yet, there are many things we can allow ourselves to be influenced by that can do real damage to us. We can absorb negative influences and they fester, appearing to lay dormant until eventually we realise that there is a bit of bad smell like something rotten.

We have started a series this week called Joy Despite…, working through the book of Philippians to understand what Paul wrote about joy and how we can hold onto it no matter what happens in our lives.

And this I pray that you love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11

Our joy can be affected by the things that we allow ourselves to be influenced by. It needs to be protected. Guard your heart from the damage that can be caused from what you read, watch, and listen to.

Guard your heart – make choices

We need to be intentional about what we choose to consume, the choices we make about the books we read, the films we watch or the music we listen to.

If we sing worship songs vigorously on a Sunday morning, but are then listening to cds which have censorship warning stickers on them on the way to work on a Monday, we risk reversing some of the work the Holy Spirit may have done in our hearts.

If we choose to read books about serial killers before we go to sleep, we may affect the opportunity for the Lord to bless us with peace during the night.

If we choose to watch horror movies, disregarding them as harmless fun, we may be underestimating the negative effect they can have on our spirit.

Towards the end of the letter Paul wrote to the Philippians we are able to read more advice about this –

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8

Guard your heart – know truth

But it’s not just the entertainment we seek that can have an effect on us. Our beliefs can be affected by the world views we adopt based on what the influences are around us.

The way we parent can be influenced by popular trends or gurus.

The way we handle our money can be influenced by the advertising companies.

The way we believe our marriage should look like can be influenced by the movies we watch.

The way we think we should look can be influenced by the glossy magazines we buy.

The way we see ourselves, the way we behave and the attitudes we have towards life can all be influenced by the world rather than God if we aren’t careful.

So how can we guard our hearts and live the way God wants us to live instead of how the world tells us to? Paul tells us to approve the things that are excellent, or another way of translating this would be to put things to the test.

We are to read our Bibles regularly, know the truth of the Word of God and examine everything else against it to put the influences to the test. The way we parent, the way we love our husbands, the way we handle our money, the way we see ourselves – all can be distorted away from the principles God gives us in the Bible if we don’t root ourselves in God’s Word.

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.