When you’re on guard duty, you’re going to have certain orders to follow. Keep them well and what you guard is safe. Ignore the orders, and you’ll be neck deep in trouble quickly.

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One of the very first things one does when entering boot camp in the United States Marines is to learn the General Orders of a sentry. The General Orders are rules Marines must know verbatim, and they govern every post. The 11 General Orders are set of rules that will guide every sentry and officer on duty in the Marine Corps. They outline a very specific set of rules and guidelines. Every possible scenario a guard on duty might encounter is outlined in the General Orders. They describe the proper conduct demanded of every sentry while on duty.

There are eleven of them, but the first one is this: “Take charge of this post and all government property in view.”


Today’s verse gives us an order – we are to guard our heart. In fact, we are told to guard it above all else. When I hear the word “guard” the first thing that pops into my mind is my General Orders.

The initial and basic requirement of a sentry is to “TAKE CHARGE.” That is an active requirement, not a passive one. Guarding your heart requires you to take charge of it, and to protect it from being exposed to things which might remove it from your control.

Our heart needs our constant, active protection.

I find it interesting that it is the HEART and not the HEAD which is given this focus. But a well-guarded heart will serve to control our thoughts. A well-guarded heart sounds an alarm when we begin to engage in thoughts which (though tempting) will eventually be quite destructive.

And so we must guard our heart ABOVE ALL ELSE. Our heart is much like the rudder of a great ship. What it allows determines the course. When we are cautious and guard our heart, it keeps us upon our course and protects us from destroying ourselves.

I know a man who has refused to guard his heart. He is constantly making the same destructive choices over and over again. At first these choices seemed to be fun, he thought his life was carefree. But as he allowed himself to be steered off course his choices demolished his family, his finances, and his reputation. Then his choices destroyed his joy and his peace. His life is a miserable mess of his own doing, and yet he cannot see beyond his pain.

Let us carefully and diligently guard our hearts, for they TRULY DO determine the course of our lives.

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