We started a new series called Heartless, based on the backstory of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. The tin man in the story The Wizard of Oz didn’t start out as a tin man. Before he became rusted to a standstill on the yellow brick road, the tin man was once a real woodsman. He was in love with a beautiful maiden but the maiden’s mother and a witch put a spell on the woodsman’s ax. Each time he used the ax he lost a limb. So one by one, the Tin Man would have his damaged limbs replaced with artificial tin ones. Finally the ax slipped and cut his heart in two. He finally was fully refitted in tin and at first he thought it was the greatest thing in the world. He was a much harder worker, he was more efficient and he needed far less rest. In the beginning, this appeared to be a great advantage as he could work with all his heart, but with the strength of a machine. But he soon realized then that losing his heart was the worst of all his misfortunes. By the time Dorothy, Toto, and the Scarecrow came by he had long since resolved to ask the wizard for a new one.

The heart truly is precious. Your heart shapes your life and forms your character – the true you, your hopes and dreams, your passions and your desires. A keyword search of the Bible nets 725 mentions of the word heart. Some of those are:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” – Psalm 73:26.  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm  51:10.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” – Proverbs 3:5-6.

One of the best known verses concerning the heart is Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This verse clearly cautions us to guard our heart, for as the ESV version of the Bible says, “it is the well spring of life.” In a similar vein, Jesus said that, ‘A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45, NLT).  Our enemy knows how vital our heart is. He knows if he can take out our heart, he can take us out.

The term “guarding your heart” In Christian circles is thrown around as frequently and liberally as we salt our French Fries. So much so,  there’s a tendency—particularly for those of us who, like myself, grew up in the church—to hear it as a Christian cliché. But on the other hand, most of us cannot articulately explain what it means to guard your heart because it is so complicated. Yet, the Heartless story tells exactly why it is so important we do so.

To better grasp how to guard your heart, consider the metaphor of the door. There is both good and bad wanting entree into our hearts. It is the gateway of who we are going to be which is why we must both guard and treasure our hearts.

Jesus says to us that “I am the door keeper” in John 10. He becomes the guard at the doorway of our hearts when we accept Him into our lives. Please note that guarding your heart does not mean that it is dead bolted from the inside. On the contrary, guarding our hearts under Jesus Christ often means our hearts will be opened to more people and more trials and tribulations. Jesus is not there to block the door, but to filter who and what enters and who and what does not.

We should remind ourselves that our hearts are not our own. We have been bought with a price, a price far greater than we can ever repay. Jesus bought our hearts and we in turn “gave our hearts” to Him, right?  One of the reasons we guard our hearts, is that they are not ours anymore to do as we please with, or even feel or think what we want with them. We gave our hearts to Jesus to be Lord of them. We are now not the owners of our hearts, but the stewards. We simply need to keep it safe for Him while we are on this earth.

Having said that, we need help from our Lord and Savior.  As the steward of your heart, you have a partnership with the Door Keeper. The catch of your partnership is this: the Door Keeper will allow in anyone you give a pass to – regardless of the red flags that are flying. You have the power and ability to give out as many passes to walk through the door as you choose. Only the Door Keeper however, knows the secrets of visitors and the outcome of their visits. In order to guard your heart and the character contained within, you must know Jesus and trust Him.  Only together can you safely guard your heart.

But like the Tin Man, what if your heart is damaged, wounded by circumstances, broken by abuse? What if you left your maiden along the side of the road? What if you lost your heart? One of the ancient prophets proclaimed a promise from God to his people: “I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 11:19, NLT). There are many promises of a new heart and a new spirit in the Bible, waiting for those who realize their weakness and return their heart to God.

Our heart is the center of our life where all joy, and all sin stem from. We are born with sinful hearts, hearts that are bent on doing things our way, hearts that think they know all and know best. But when we give our heart to Jesus, no matter what our past or present was or is, we will be heartless no more.