Upon hearing the words “Follow your heart”, many people are simply taken in by how sweet the words sound. It’s often associated with feelings of romance and relationship. When one sees a friend with an obvious attraction to another person, they may blurt out “just follow your heart!” It sounds so harmless, doesn’t it?
I’ve seen many people who proclaim Christianity using this phrase to uplift a friend.
Sadly I have even heard this advice given to people involved in extra-marital affairs as an encouragement to leave their spouses and lavish their love on the third party. (This last one makes me especially sick to my stomach!)
The question today is… is this advice GOOD or BAD? Would you be surprised to learn that the Bible does indeed have more than a few things to say on the subject?
In the seventh chapter of Mark, Jesus is speaking about the heart of man. In verses 21-23 he speaks very explicitly about what defiles a man.
MARK 7:20-23 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, OUT OF THE HEART OF MEN, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
I think it’s pretty clear that the heart of man is not (by default) a great place. But there are things we can do to GET (and to KEEP) our hearts in the right place with the Lord.
PROVERBS 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
PROVERBS 23:26 My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways.
The Bible even says we are to guard our hearts…
PROVERBS 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
…but how do we do that?
PHILIPPIANS 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We need to be living our lives in such a way that God’s peace just completely envelops our being. Are you living in rebellious sin? Repent, and start doing what’s right! Are you ignoring God’s Word and taking the advice of every armchair psychologist on the internet? Stop listening to the wisdom of the world, and get back to the wisdom of the one who CREATED the world – and everything in it! If you do these things, then no matter what storm comes, you will not be shaken.
There are two very pointed scriptures that stand in stark contrast to the whole “follow your heart” thing. And in my opinion, these words of the Lord should put this bad advice out of its’ misery once and for all.
JEREMIAH 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
PROVERBS 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.
So… bottom line… the heart is deceitful, sick, virtually impossible to understand, AND… if you put your trust in it, you’re a fool. I’m pretty sure that God made this crystal clear in His Word so that there would be NO misunderstanding.
As a final note, I am often approached by people who are in the middle of various marriage trials. Some are the offender, and some are the offended. But no matter the situation, they are ALWAYS in pain. They want to know how to stop the pain they’re living in. Never in a million years would I tell them to “follow their heart” because it would deceive them. Instead, I gently exhort them to pour themselves into helping others, serving in their church, and figuring out what it takes to forgive their spouse – no matter what the offense was. Then I point them to this beautiful word from the Lord…
Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
“Delight yourself in the Lord” means to serve Him and to pursue knowledge of Him. God knows what the desires of your heart are because HE placed them there. If you are constantly keeping your heart before Him in worship and humble submission, then He will honor those desires in His time, and in a righteous manner.
It is far better to follow the instructions given in Psalm 37:4-5 than it is to “follow your heart.”
May your marriages be wrapped in the peace of Christ.
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