February is Heart Month. I never gave it much thought until my father-in-law had a heart attack several years ago, followed by quadruple-bypass surgery. He made a full recovery, but it was frightening to consider the potential outcomes of that emergency. We were reminded that heart disease begins long before the first signs of a heart attack. The disease is somewhat preventable, but you have to know the risk factors and how to fight against it.
Similarly, followers of Christ may be at risk for a life-threatening “spiritual” heart attack.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” Scripture teaches us to guard and protect our heart. Not just the physical heart that pumps blood through our body and keeps us alive, but also our spiritual heart—the part of us that’s created for intimacy with the Father. It’s in that heart where we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus and are used by Him to advance His Kingdom. But when sin enters, we are in danger of stepping away from God’s will for our lives, and the effects can be crippling to our spiritual health.
Consider the woman who ignores her personal time with the Lord. Does doing so one day destroy her defense against the enemy? Certainly not. But when one day turns to a week, and weeks turn to months of neglecting to be filled with His Word and inviting the Holy Spirit to be part of her day, she makes herself vulnerable to attack.
What about the son who hears the Word of God as a child but doesn’t see the need for it into adolescence or into adulthood? The places in his heart designed for God’s truth to flow freely become clogged up with things of this world, making him an easy target for spiritual attack.
We can all fall susceptible to setbacks if we don’t have a prevention plan in place. Here are the ABCs for guarding your heart and preventing a spiritual heart attack.
A – Avoid harmful influences. We can protect our heart by being aware of what we put into it. What goes in a mind, comes out in a life. Pay attention to what you allow into your mind. Is anything threatening to stop God’s truth from pumping through your brain?
B – Become more active. Exercise spiritual disciplines such as reading the Bible, strengthening your prayer life, and meeting together with other believers. These keep you strong in your walk. Are you building a defense against spiritual attack by keeping spiritually fit?
C – Choose life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The most effective fortification of our heart is to choose the Giver of Life every day. Walking with Jesus is a lifestyle, not a one-time event. Are you intentional about your relationship with Jesus?
A spiritual heart attack happens when our hearts are weakened by sin and indifference. It begins long before the first ache and feelings of numbness. Can we block a spiritual heart attack? Many times, yes, but we have to be active in preventing it. Prevention is attainable, but it is not accidental.
Will you exercise and strengthen your spiritual heart this month?
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).