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What does “guard your heart” mean in a relationship?

Most of us can name at least one sign of a heart that’s in poor physical shape, but recognizing danger to your heart’s emotional or spiritual health can be much more difficult and just as costly. Proverbs 4:23 issues this caution: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Our hearts’ spiritual health affects every action and interaction in our lives. We guard our hearts by making wise choices about what we consume and who we spend time with. This is important at any age and stage of life, but few relationships influence us as much as our dating relationships.

4 Ways to Guard Your Heart While Dating

1. Remember, relationships in real life are not like relationships in the movies.

Chick flicks and action movies often paint unrealistic expectations of perfection. Expecting a boyfriend or girlfriend to live up to a fictional character is a quick way to end up broken-hearted.

2. Stop planning your wedding.

Thanks to Pinterest, women can plan the wedding before meeting their mate. Dreaming about an event God has yet to bring to fruition yet is another form of lust. When we lust, we’re grasping for an illusion instead of dealing with our reality.

3. Find a new mission field.

We often rationalize dating a non-believer by bringing them to church or telling them about Jesus. Your boyfriend or girlfriend might be more open to faith than when you first met, but at what cost?

Our most intimate relationships have the power to draw us closer to Jesus or slowly pull us away. God can and does use us to bring people to Himself, but a believer dating a non-believer is like eating a cheeseburger every day and expecting your heart not to suffer the consequences. If you are dating an unbeliever, the relationship is standing in the way of your spiritual growth and therefore a danger to your heart. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, the apostle Paul warned about the effects of being influenced in close proximity to non-believers saying, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Be friends, help them know God, and don't let them cause you to compromise.

4. Don’t have sex with someone you aren’t married to.

God created sex, and it is good! But like everything God designed, He had a plan in mind. Sex was created for marriage, to be enjoyed by a husband and wife in a covenant relationship before God. In this way, sex is like a fire. Inside a fireplace, the flames provide warmth and comfort. But outside the fireplace walls, fire causes damage and heartache. A fire’s location makes a significant difference in whether it causes intimacy and growth, or heartbreak and pain. Sex is the same way.

Satan will use anything he can to distract us or break our hearts. The best way to guard our hearts is to focus on Jesus. When we follow Jesus with all our heart, He will guide us in relationship with others and provide our hearts with all the protection we need.

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