Defend Your Heart - And Your Spouse's!

Research on first responder marriages is still fairly limited, and we’ve seen that research on first responder marriages has had mixed conclusions. For instance, some studies show law enforcement divorce rates are as high as 75 percent while other studies show law enforcement divorce rates are lower than the national average. The differences may be due to different research methodologies used in each study, or the studies being conducted on different size departments in different parts of the country. Despite the differing numbers, there is one common theme between the studies: Law enforcement job stress brought into the marriage does cause marital issues.

(source: “Married to the Badge: Stress in the Law Enforcement Marriage” by Mark Bond) 

Photo by   Natalie   from   Pexels

Photo by Natalie from Pexels

The truth is, even without that extra stress - every day you’re at risk for a heart attack. Not the medical variety - but the spiritual kind. That’s why it’s so important to heed Solomon’s warning in Proverbs 4:23— “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” If we don’t guard our heart, we leave it vulnerable to attack.

A heart under attack can result in serious damage to your relationship with God and with your spouse. It is vital that you guard not only your own heart but also the heart of your dear one. Guarding love is an important facet of a growing, fruitful marriage.

What’s so important about the heart? Solomon said it clearly: “It affects everything you do.” Jesus gives us even more insight: “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Luke 6:45). The heart has everything to do with everything you do—including your marriage.

First, the heart is central to our faith and salvation. Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). We couldn’t know God apart from faith, and the heart is the seat of our faith.

Once we have exercised saving faith, we must guard our hearts against doubt and disbelief that would rob us of our first-love relationship with God. Don’t dilute what God has begun in your life and wants to do in your life by leaving your hearts and faith unguarded. The writer of Hebrews warns us, “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).

Second, the heart is central to the fruitfulness of the Bible in our lives. When Jesus explained the parable of the sower and the soils to his disciples, he said, “The good soil represents honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s message, cling to it, and steadily produce a huge harvest” (Luke 8:15). A guarded heart is like a well-tended garden where maximum growth can occur.

When we fail to guard our hearts, we may muddy the effectiveness of God’s Word in our lives. In this parable, Jesus explained, “The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts” (Matthew 13:19). Don’t limit what God can do in you and through you, especially in your marriage relationship, by leaving God’s Word unguarded in your heart.

Third, the heart is central to our high call to love God and people. When asked which of the commandments was greatest, Jesus replied, quoting the Old Testament, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). An unguarded heart is vulnerable to anything and everything that flies in the face of biblical love. Jesus warned, “From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander” (Matthew 15:19).

Loving God and loving others—including our spouses—is an issue of the heart. Paul wrote to Timothy, “The purpose of my instruction is that all the Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith” (1Timothy 1:5). Peter instructed believers, “See to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts” (1Peter 1:22). If you leave your hearts unguarded you are in danger of straying from your primary biblical assignment to love God and love each other.

How do you guard your heart? By being super-cautious about what you allow into your heart and mind. Learn to resist and dismiss any thoughts that lure you away from the centrality of faith in Christ, the Word of God, and love. You also guard your heart by monitoring your activities. Don’t put yourself in places or situations where you are too weak to resist temptation. And guard your spouse’s heart by helping him or her stay far from spiritual and moral compromise. Two healthy hearts make for one exciting and rewarding marriage.

*For more helpful insights to connect with your spouse, check out Renewing Your Love: Devotions for Couples in our online bookstore.