How do we manage “guarding our heart” without “pushing people away”?
I always struggle with it; I try to be kind to everyone around me, but some people mistake my kindness for weakness, or a willingness to accept whatever behavior they might choose to display….
We all crave love and respect. I am speaking of love in general, not necessarily romantic love. I think there is much love that people want to give but it’s harder and harder these days to show love, to celebrate pure and genuine love. Some people mistake kindness for flirtation, or some may hold back, thinking that others must want something from them. How sad! But the point is: how do we walk the fine line between loving unconditionally and guarding our own personhood?
Fortunately, God has given us the answer in the Bible. [Proverbs 4:23-27] clearly warns us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”
To be kind to everyone, you must realize that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. The Bible tells us over and over to be kind to one another and help each other, and repeatedly emphasizes that there shouldn’t be any limits to our compassion. Sometimes people are so beaten down by life’s trials and failures that they need someone who is willing to be a long-term friend to help them. It can be challenging to help someone who at first seems unwilling to take any steps towards a solution. He or she may seem like a hopeless case. But a long, patient friendship with such a person can also be very rewarding. It pleases God to see this wonderful characteristic of perseverance in our lives.
However, in this area of giving and helping, the Bible also teaches that we must have wise discernment. We must “guard our hearts” by not saying or doing things that we may regret. God gives us certain standards and we must draw a line when it comes to giving our time to others or, even more than that, our hearts.
Our emotions and feelings can overwhelm us at times. But wisdom evaluates our “Why, How, and Where”. The book of Proverbs and Psalms of David in the Bible are filled with knowledge of good judgment, insight, and common sense.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The Word of God not only tell us to follow the precepts of the Lord, but also tells us to make this a matter of prayer, asking the Lord to show us what He wants us to do. He will give us wisdom to recognize genuine needs and discern between protecting our hearts and giving into distraction.
Regardless of how others view our kindness — Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D says, “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.”