One piece of advice you can throw out in the year is the idea that following your heart is a good one. Have you had a friend who gave you an advice and said, “follow your heart”? I am guilty of giving that advice, too. “Follow your heart” is a belief romanticized in movies, songs and novels today. These narratives in culture tell us our hearts have a map that will direct and guide us to a location of true happiness and satisfaction. If only we’ll listen.
This belief sounds simple and harmless. Even liberating. But can you think of what your heart has told you to do or follow lately? How many times has its desires sounded wise or selfless?
Following your heart prioritizes your desires above all others.
My heart has desired things that I do not wish to repeat. My heart likes to think of and prioritize what is best for me. Some days, it would even think of what is bad and inconvenient for others just to gratify what might bring me happiness. My heart insists what I am feeling is always right and those who do not understand it are always wrong.
This theology sounds simple. But it is not beautiful, holy or good. The idea of “following your heart” is not found in the Bible. In contrast, Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are deceitful above all things. Matthew 15:19 even says that “out of the heart come murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Who can indeed understand and trust it?”
Our hearts lead a path of vagueness and confusion.
Our feelings, desires and emotions change. Therefore, following our hearts is an windy and treacherous path to take. One moment, your desires might tell you to go left and in a snap, they might tell you to go right. Following your heart will exhaust you because we are shifting humans with shifting appetites. Until we channel our desires towards Jesus and take the reins of our hearts wants will we know freedom from the misery this advice can bring into our lives.
Nothing is as deceitful as the human heart.
The ugly truth is that our hearts do not tell us the truth, it just tells us what we want. In fact, our hearts are not benevolent; we are compulsively selfish, self-indulgent and self-glorifying beings by our very fallen nature. Our hearts reflect this.
Our hearts were never designed to be followed. They were designed to be led by God. But how do we allow our hearts to be led by God? Some may refer to this as something outrageous supernatural, but being led by God is basically being obedient to Him.
If we allow our hearts to be led by God, we are allowing our hearts to be led by the ultimate comforter, deliverer, strengthener, provider, counselor, helper, and a savior beyond perfection.
God is also faithful to strengthen and reinforce us to be submissive to Him, His perfect will and His best plans for us which is so much better than the self-centered and worldly desires we have for ourselves.
It’s much more than just trying to be a good person. See, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and no matter how hard we try (that is, through self-effort), we can never be good and worthy enough without Jesus (since it is all by grace through faith). Therefore, allowing our hearts to be led by God means intentionally trusting Him and submitting to Him no matter the circumstance – letting Him drive our cars purposefully instead of us maneuvering it to a series of self-inflicted and emotion-swayed humps and bumps.
Following your heart is like unknowingly covering your eyes with a veil, and still foolishly and senselessly say that you can see things accurately and completely. Therefore, do not be deceived by your heart. Do not buy the lie that you’re the center of the world and your appetite is the most important. Stop focusing on yourself, what you feel and what you want.
You’ll never find satisfaction there. So fix your eyes on the author of your peace, the one who knows better. The one whose heart never fails us.