You see it everywhere. The message is drummed into our heads from toddler-hood on. It’s in books, movies, even an American Girl CD I had when I was seven. Have a problem? Can’t decide what to do? Just follow your heart!
It sounds good at first glance, doesn’t it? It’s an almost romantic idea. Like “follow your dreams” or “shoot for the moon”, it’s a pleasant ideal. We want to believe in the truth of it. However, what is it that we should really be following? Our heart, or something (or someone) else? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it. Take a look at Mark 7:21-23:
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed 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.”
Does that sound like something we want to be following? I didn’t think so. Now I’m not saying that your heart is inherently evil and nothing good can come from it or your emotions. We know that you can “make melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19) and we can hide God’s word in our hearts (Ps. 119:11). However, our heart should certainly not be our number one “go-to guy” when we can’t make a decision or we need guidance, because our heart can lead us astray. Look at Samson! His heart was certainly gunning for Delilah, but she certainly wasn’t the right choice for him if He was going to be a spiritual man.
Our heart should certainly not be our number one “go-to guy” when we can’t make a decision or we need guidance, because our heart can lead us astray.
So what should I do with my heart? First, I have to purify it. In Psalm 51:10, King David pleads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” This should be my constant plea. My heart cannot possibly be any good unless it is right with God. That means finding my mistakes and working to correct them. Secondly, guard it in order to keep it pure. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” We have to be careful what we invest our heart in, and what we allow it to get caught up in. If we let it sink into sin, or invest it more highly in other pursuits than in our spiritual life, that’s an issue we have to fix. Thirdly, I have to trust and love God with it. Look at Proverbs 3:5– “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” This is what we should do if we have a problem or need guidance… we should go to GOD, and trust Him to lead us, not just simply act on our own impulses and wants. Believe me, I know this is easier said than done. Sometimes we want something so much that we can’t see how it could possibly be the wrong way to go, but that’s OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. The thing we’re NOT supposed to lean on. We have to learn that God knows better than we do. Finally, I have to fix it on things that are not of this world. Take a look at Colossians 3:1-3 (one of my favorites):
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
There’s an old song called “Turn My Heart”; I feel the lyrics are applicable.
“Lord, I surrender to Your work in me,
I rest my life within Your loving hands.
Turn my heart, O Lord, like rivers of water.
Turn my heart, O Lord, by Your hand,
‘Til my whole life flows in the river of Your spirit
And my name brings honor to the Lamb.”
By Melissa Hite