Dear Christian Sister,
The phrase, “follow your heart,” is one that has permeated our culture. Sometimes, we don’t even think twice about it.
It is a phrase that we use to give advice to one another. We see it hailed as the most worthy pursuit in the posts of social media influencers. It comes up in many (I’d venture to say most) movies that we watch today. In TV shows and movies it may not be explicitly stated, but it is a common, underlying theme – characters leaving behind their families, their responsibilities to seek after their heart’s desires. Lyrics to popular songs follow this sentiment. It’s worked its way into our everyday activities, even onto our clothing. Just a few days ago, I was out for a walk and passed a girl wearing a t-shirt that read, “Follow your heart. It knows where to go.”
Should a Christian follow their heart? Is this good advice or a right way to live? Does my heart know where to go?
The short answer to each of these questions is “no.”
The Bible has a lot to say about the human heart, and it isn’t all good. Before the flood in Genesis, God looks on the heart of man and sees that “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Jeremiah 17:9 tells us “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
In the Christian community, we often hear the phrase “sin nature.” This is the idea that we are born with a heart that is bent toward sin and away from God. We have inherited a nature of sin from Adam. Our hearts are deceitful.
In Matthew 15:18-20, Jesus says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”
Our thoughts, feelings, and actions come from what is in our heart. So to follow a deceitful human heart is extremely dangerous. The human heart does not naturally seek after what is good, what is right, what is true. We do not naturally seek after God.
You will be constantly told by our culture to follow your heart, to do what feels right. It always works out in the movies. But this is not biblical advice, and rarely ends well.
Instead, the Bible implores us to die to ourselves and follow Christ (Matt 16:24). We are to guard our hearts because everything we do flows out of our hearts (Prov 4:23). The Proverbs also model how we are to write the words of God on our hearts (Prov 3:3, 6:21).
When we actively orient our hearts toward the Lord, our thoughts, feelings, and actions will follow. The only one who has the power to truly change our hearts is God, so we must look to Him. As Christians, we are daily being sanctified, transformed into the likeness of Christ.
The best place to start re-orienting your heart to God is by reading His Word. Open your Bible. This is the means by which God has revealed Himself to us, so saturate your heart and mind with Scripture. Pray for God to change your heart. Pray for wisdom. Pray for guidance and wise counsel.
Life in a fallen world can be confusing, difficult, and exhausting. We have hard decisions to make, ones that will greatly impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Decisions that will impact the Kingdom.
Follow Jesus. Follow the leading of the Spirit. Follow wise counsel, rooted in biblical truth.
Please, don’t follow your deceitful heart.