What does it mean to follow your heart? I’ve started hearing that a lot recently and not just from secular movies and television shows. I expect it from them. But I’ve started hearing it from Christians. Christians have started saying “follow your heart” when faced with a difficult decision. But I’m afraid it’s turned into one of those statements that everybody says but nobody really understands what it means.
In my understanding, following your heart or being true to your heart means that you should make the choice that reflects who you are inside.
Okay. Well there would be nothing wrong with that if our hearts were trustworthy. But they’re not.
Today’s verse is Jeremiah 17:9-10.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”
The heart is a Western euphemism to refer to the seat of the emotions. The Western world uses the heart to describe the core of a person, who they are, what they’re about, etc. So if you tell someone that they have a kind heart, you’re telling them they are a kind and compassionate person. And if you tell someone to follow their heart, you’re telling them to judge a situation for themselves and make a decision based on what they think is right.
I think I understand what Christians are trying to say when they tell me to follow my heart. They’re telling me to do what I think is best. But I’ll be honest, if I’m involved in a difficult situation, and if going to do what I think is best, it won’t turn out for the best. If I’m going to do what I think is right, the whole situation will all come crashing down on my head. Because on my own I don’t know what’s best. Because on my own I don’t know what’s right.
If I want to know what’s right and what’s best, I need to consult with God. Not my heart. Not my inner self.
And yes, I’m redeemed. So is my heart. But I can’t trust my heart. My heart will tell me that I want something that God has already told me I shouldn’t have. My heart will tell me to react harshly in conflict where God will tell me to be kind and humble. My heart is never satisfied where God calls me to be content.
Christians, we shouldn’t follow our hearts. We follow Christ.
Your heart won’t rest until you’re ruined. And even then, it will still try to keep you down. Our hearts are dangerous, dark things. They can’t be trusted at all.
Does that mean you can’t be who you are? No. Not at all. Who you are isn’t dependent on your heart. Who you are isn’t dependant on your physical body or your actions anyway. Who you are depends on who God made you to be. And no one knows you better than God does, so He won’t guide you to do something that contradicts His plan for you.
If you don’t know what to do in a situation, don’t look deep inside yourself for the answer. You don’t have it. If you don’t know what is right, ask God. If you follow Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside you anyway. He’s right there. So just ask Him what to do. Read Scripture. And if you can’t think of a good Bible story that matches your situation, Google it. And if that doesn’t work, ask a trusted mature Christian friend.
But whatever you do, don’t follow your heart. You’ll end up in deep trouble. You’ll cause more problems than you solve. And in the end, your heart will only dig you a deeper hole to fall into rather than lighting the path for your escape.
I read your posts daily and most mornings walk away with a grin of some sort, but today’s struck me as a time to toss a challenge into the mix. I understand from where you come in this post and in your rationale, based on that verse, but still, I beg to differ. Why? Because I’m of the ilk that believes there are a great many things which God lays on my heart — a great many dreams and desires and feelings which lead to how I conduct myself in my life. I envision my “heart” as the core of me which belongs first to Him and one of those key places where He works in me, shapes me, nudges me, leads me, and prompts me into action — or inaction as the case may be. And if I feel so led by things that it seems God has planted in me, then why would I not follow??
Two sides to every coin and just talking opinion, but wanted to throw in another way to look at it. For me personally, I sometimes get notions/ideas/thoughts in my HEAD which I know I shouldn’t follow but sometimes still do, but my heart doesn’t seem to lead me astray. Ever. For me, it’s my head and my gut — they’re not always as trustworthy. But my heart? It takes its shots and keeps on ticking…
Thanks for your thoughts, Joni! I’ll respond when my brain isn’t mush. =)
When I first read this verse, it also reminded me of the common phrase, “follow your heart.” I then pictured a cart and a horse, where the cart is your heart and the horse is your mind.
The horse (your mind) is trying to pull the cart (your heart) up hill. But if you “follow your heart” it’s as if the cart is rolling down hill out of control pulling the horse along with it!
That’s an interesting illustration, Justin! Makes me smile to think about it ….
First rate piece of common sense. Well done! God has given us brains to use, to get to know the bible, so we can weigh carefully what we sense he is saying. I love that – “we shouldn’t follow our hearts. We follow Christ.” Just so.