Guarding your heart can be compared to protecting the castles of the Middle Ages, which protected the lives and property of those who lived within their walls.
These family strongholds were typically built on high ground, positioned to command a view of the approaches on all sides. Boiled down to the basics, medieval military science involved the attack and defense of castles. Castles were constructed to defend, and enemies were determined to attack. As the sophistication of the defenses grew, so did the schemes of the attackers.
Castles could be attacked in one of two ways. The most overt was the frontal attack. That’s where the bad guys rolled right up to the walls and started hammering away with catapults, battering rams, flaming arrows, and hordes of invaders scrambling up long ladders.
If the frontal attack failed, a second approach might be employed: the sneak attack. These sorts of tactics were limited only by the craftiness of an enemy’s imagination. If they couldn’t knock down the walls, they might attempt to starve the inhabitants out by cutting off their provisions from the outside or, even worse, by damming up or poisoning the castle’s water supply. Another ploy was to take the castle dwellers by surprise with a ruse, something like the famous Trojan horse.
When a castle was under siege by a powerful or clever invader, it was too late to shore up the defenses. The castle’s defenses had to be maintained at all times so that it would be ready for any attack that would come.
The Enemies of Your Heart
Just like the castles of old, your heart and the hearts of your spouse and children are vulnerable to a variety of dangers from without and within. Solomon exhorts us to shore up the castle of our hearts against the enemies of our relationship with Christ, with our spouse, and with our children.
A vital prerequisite to shoring up the defense of your heart is to identify the enemies of your heart. The more you know about the nature of the assault, the better prepared you will be to defend against it. Here is a brief overview of the six critical enemies of your heart:
1. Job and home pressures.
Many couples allow the pressures of pursuing a career and maintaining a home to push marriage and family relationships to the back burner. When you focus too narrowly on your next promotion or the responsibilities of home management and children’s activities, you leave your heart unguarded.
2. Material distractions.
Most people find the affluence of our culture difficult to resist. The dizzying lust for pleasure, power, money, and position can turn your heart away from the lasting values of nurturing loving relationships.
3. Relationship pressures.
Everyone around you seems to need something from you—your attention, your support, your energy, your resources. Failing to prioritize your relationships can fragment your heart’s devotion.
4. Sexual temptation.
Both men and women are vulnerable to the temptations of physical and/or emotional infidelity. Failing to establish and maintain relational guardrails can lead to heartbreak in a marriage.
5. Misguided view of success.
The drive to succeed in this world often prompts healthy competition fueled by pride, envy, and greed. Buy into the world’s warped view of success, and you may leave your heart behind.
6. Passivity and control.
Many marriages are pulled apart from one of two opposite poles: passivity and control. A passive partner abdicates the responsibility of nurturing marriage and family relationships. A controlling partner foists his or her agenda on other family members. Passivity and control in marriage can kill the heart.
Can you feel the battering ram crashing against the gate of your castle? Can you hear the flaming arrows hissing over your head? Can you see the angry army advancing outside the walls? Yes, your heart is under siege—and your spouse’s heart is as well! Your marriage hangs in the balance. How can you be sure your defenses will hold up against the multifaceted attack? Is it possible to guard your hearts against the onslaught?
Yes, it is possible—and it is imperative.
Here are three things you can count on.
You have a marriage relationship that is worth guarding with your life.
Living in a world that is largely hostile to healthy marriages, your hearts will come under attack.
You cannot survive these attacks on your own. You and your spouse must stand together against your common foe. You must guard your heart and guard each other’s heart. And you need others to stand with you over the long haul—Christians who share your desire for a lasting marriage.
We want to be counted among your group of supporters. That’s why we offer coaching in so many different ways — via our blog, podcast, videos and books. We want to see your marriage thrive and stand strong!
*Our book, Guard Your Heart, can help equip you and your spouse with the tools to protect your marriage. It's available in our online bookstore!