Jeremiah 17: 9The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
The poster is that of a female sprinter exploding out of the starting blocks, eyes focussed ahead. Written in large gold letters across the top are the words: “Follow Your Heart”. A second poster has large white letters on a blue background with a few simple words: “FOLLOW YOUR HEART. LIVE YOUR DREAM”. I’m sure that many a young athlete has posters like this hanging on their wall. After all, the words sound beautiful; they sound empowering and motivating. But, are they scriptural?
The Bible has a great deal to say about the heart as well, but surprisingly it is often not very complimentary. Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”. Jesus said to his disciples: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7: 21-22). If that is true, how wise is it tell someone to follow their hearts?
I, for one, have learned not to simply follow my heart, because sometimes I am very concerned about what lies there. When Jesus addressed the Pharisees he said: “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. (Matthew 12:34) I have often been very concerned about the words that have come out of my mouth and have had to trace them back to a heart a problem. There are times where following my heart would be an extremely bad decision.
God makes it very clear what type of heart he desires us to have. In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul instructs Timothy: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” And that pure heart is not man’s natural inclination. When we read the Bible we often find God desperately searching for people with His heart. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
In Ezekiel 11:19 we read the prophecy: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh”. This Messianic prophesy foretold of Jesus’ arrival, His death on the cross, and His indwelling in the hearts of those who accept Him. (Ephesians 3:17). When my relationship with Jesus is solid and I am firmly grafted to the vine (John 15: 4-5), then what flows out of my heart is pure, and the fruits of the spirit are evident (Galatians 5:22-23). However, when I allow separation from The Vine, what flows from my heart is not as pleasant.
It is because of our fickle hearts that we can’t simply “follow our hearts”. It is prudent to test our hearts. Whether it is a relationship we “desire” to pursue, or a passion we “want” to follow, we need to bring these things to God before blindly following our hearts. We have been given God’s Word so we can test our feelings. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Mature Christians can also hold us accountable, to ensure our hearts are pure in the things we wish to follow.
Don’t follow your heart. Follow Christ’s heart in you”.