There is an extraordinary amount of wisdom packed into Proverbs 4:23, which not only directs our lives but our ministry. It says to “above all else, guard your heart,” or watch over it with all diligence, “for everything you do flows from it.” When we think of pro-life ministry, we often think of helping a mother and her baby when the mother is in a situation where she is considering having an abortion. But we know there is a story behind what led to that point. Heartbeat’s vision is to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for the future.
Training people to guard their hearts will make this possible. But how?
1. Building Good Relationships
Doing anything that’s wrong starts with evil desires. James described how they lead one to give in to temptation and to sin, which brings about death. One way of avoiding this wrong path involves promoting transparency and trust in relationships, opening up ourselves to others and giving of ourselves. We are designed to be people in relationship who love God – who first loved us – and who love our neighbor as ourself. Whether we have fears, anxieties, sins, or sorrows, they can be overcome through sharing them with God and other wise people. Paul the apostle said that in bringing everything before God, His peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and James said that healing comes through confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another.
Promoting healthy relationships, where we enjoy God and cherish one another, leaves no room for destructive desires. Without such relationships, we end up, as Catholic theologian Blaise Pascal said, trying in vain to fill our emptiness with everything around us, seeking in those things help that they do not provide; they cannot satisfy us, “because the infinite abyss can be filled by an infinite and immutable object...God himself.” Developing relationships with grace and truth, though, gives us moral strength that drives out desires that lead to sins against our own children or others. Consider, then, how you might do this more in your own life, as well as how to encourage others in it.
2. Developing the Mind
A second key way to guard our hearts, or our whole being, is to develop the mind, using both God’s general and special revelation. The ideas we believe in, when we live them out, have consequences. That is why it’s so important to work on identifying and getting rid of false beliefs that we have, learn more true beliefs, and strengthen the true beliefs we have.
In Paul’s terms, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we can know and live according to God’s good commands. Peter said to be on your guard so that we are not carried away by error, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must know, for example, that every human being has inestimable moral value, and therefore we should not use someone either mentally or physically as merely a means to our own pleasure. Furthermore, the great good of sexual intimacy is rightly enjoyed only within the context and safety of a lifelong, exclusive commitment to one’s husband or wife. Being equipped to show why these ideas are true is also a critical part of serving others, especially when so many conflicting views influence our culture.
3. Nourishing the Imagination
Finally, we guard our hearts by nourishing our imagination in God-honoring ways. Speaking to his son, Solomon said not to lust after an immoral woman’s beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes. On the one hand, we need to stop taking in images that tempt us toward lust and sin, whether it is movies, television, indecent websites, or immodesty – many things are designed to catch our attention, but we need to not take the bait (or be the bait), even if it is unintentional.
On the other hand, we need to nourish our imagination with good images. For example, consider the beauty of God’s character and His creation, whether it’s getting outside and enjoying a sunset, having pictures of scenic things combined with Bible verses to meditate on, or if you’re married, enjoying your spouse. Watch wholesome movies with good messages. Listen to uplifting music. As Paul exhorted us, focus on whatever is true, noble, and right; whatever is pure, lovely, and admirable; and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.
Building good relationships, developing our minds, and nourishing our imaginations must be prioritized in our own lives, but we must also teach them to our children and encourage others with these ideas. All of this is part of life-affirming ministry by preventing any inclination toward abortion from even having a foothold.
If this article was helpful, check out the webinar recording, available in our online store, Guarding Hearts.