Follow your heart is a popular persuasion for people today. Its guidance is given when the meeting with a friend is over, your coffee mugs are empty and you still haven’t figured out a solution, a next step for the problem, decision or path you’re facing. So we ask, what’s your heart telling you? Just follow that.
Is that the best advice? No.
Is it sound advice? No.
Didn’t David say that somewhere in the Psalms? Definitely no. David followed his heart right into Bathsheba’s bed.
Follow Your Heart:
To follow implies that something or someone is leading you. Your heart is then the thing that is doing the leading. According to Greek and Hebrew traditions the heart is the seat of our emotions, desires, and feelings. When we use the advice to follow our hearts, we are, in essence, allowing our emotions, desires and feelings to be our guides.
I so want this “follow your heart” advice to be a sensible thing. I want my heart to be good, my emotions even keel, desires pure, feelings steady. But scripture tells me otherwise: It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies and cussing. (Matthew 15:19MSG)
Are these the kinds of things we want to follow? Yeah, me neither.
Our hearts are foolish. A wise man once said, He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26NKJV)
It’s what makes us think we know what’s best for us. It’s what makes us think we’re smarter and bigger than God. It’s what makes us think the grass is greener somewhere else. It’s what makes us puff up with pride, be unforgiving and draw a stubborn line in the sand. It’s what has us one decision away from destruction. What feels right in the height of sweet emotion often turns bitter down the road.
Our hearts are fickle. It can change from day to day or even moment by moment. In a split second we can go from happy heart to hurting heart, from heart of a warrior to way of a worrier, from brave heart to brokenhearted. An instant, a phone call, a look, a temptation….is often all it takes.
If I follow my heart and act out from a place of hurt, worry or brokenness I won’t make the decisions based on truth but on feelings. If I follow my heart based on arrogance and sheer stubbornness…well I won’t have many friends at the end of the day.
Our hearts are fraudulent. Jeremiah tells us that our hearts are deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9NIV) The deception is that we can live our truth.
As adventurous and daring as that sounds, it’s a lie. Living our truth is code for following our own hearts into the foolish things that we later regret (if we ever admit it was wrong). Living our truth means leave me alone, I know what I’m doing, I don’t need your advice, let me be in my sin, MY truth…
So what do we do? We know that following our hearts is bad advice that gets us going in the wrong direction. The good news is we can lead our hearts by doing these three things.
Check your heart. This little ditty was made famous by comedian John Crist. Or was it David? Search me God and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24CSB)
If there is an offensive thing found? Don’t look to the culture to compare, to see if maybe it ain’t so bad as so and so. Admit it, turn from it and run.
Guard your heart above all else because it is the wellspring of life. according to Proverbs 4:23NIV.
Guard it from what exactly? From foolishness, falling for fickle feelings and fraudulent activity. Recognize the lie of living your truth. Our plumb line is not the world or social media or famous people or the person in the pew next to us. Ours is the Bible so…
Renew your mind. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2NIV)
I love this bit from Romans 12:1-2 in the Message:
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (emphasis mine)
Transformed minds make for hearts that do not easily conform to the culture or be beguiled by twisted truths wrapped in pretty packages.
Follow your heart sure sounds romantic and noble and true but it’s not. It gets us into trouble. Every. Single. Time.
Don’t follow your heart. Follow Me. (Jesus)