When I was young there was a phrase that was common to say, “follow your heart”. This phrase indicated your heart could never steer you wrong, if you remain true to what you think is right, you’ll end up where you should be. From the position of a casual observer this idea sounds quite favorable.
Why trust in anyone or anything other than yourself? No one has your best in mind more than you! At least, the ones quoting this phrase want you to think that. But is this sound advice? Is your heart trustworthy? Has anyone asked that question? Taking a quick survey of God’s Word gives us a different perspective:
Jeremiah 17:9 gives a fateful blow to this methodology:
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?”
In Genesis 6:5, the antediluvian (pre-flood) crowd didn’t have a very positive summation either:
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Likewise, Jesus knew what was in the heart of man, He didn’t entrust Himself to them in John 2 and later gave a more sordid picture in Mark 7:20-23
“And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts,adulteries, fornications, murders, 22thefts,covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.23All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
So, the pattern we see inherently in mankind is evil. Our sinful nature precludes us from anything that is good. Paul recognized this in himself in Romans 7:18:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”
So what is the answer? If there are none who are good, if no good thing dwells within us, then how do we order our lives? How can anyone do any good at all? We see what seems like good things all around us but are they truly good? Truthfully, we can’t know for sure from an external perspective. Why? Because we can’t see the motivation of the heart!
Someone may knock an elderly woman down in the street, and what looks like cruelty was that person trying to save her from death. Another may hand out food to the poor only to find out later, it was a required assignment or attempt for promotion. We cannot judge a persons heart, simply from observation.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
This concept is why Paul says in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and why we are all condemned to die a second death in Romans 6:23 and Rev. 20:14.
So the question of the heart is….who rules in it?
Do you make decisions off of a hunch, questionable counsel, cultural and social expectations, politically correct manipulation or how you were raised? All of these patterns can be evil or at best unreliable. We may receive good counsel, we may of had honorable parents or culture may seem credible, but where did they all build their foundation of morality? If it was founded in anything other than Righteousness, it is corrupt.
Romans 8:12-14. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Our call is to obedience, not to our heart but to the Spirit of God whom each believer, born again has been sealed with. In our natural state, there is no good that dwells in us and likewise, no decision we make on our own can therefore be good. When we trust in the Lord, we listen to His call, His lead, and His instruction, we act on His goodness and our path is ordered by Him.
He sees the end from the beginning, His way leads to life, His actions toward us are founded in love and He will be the one to ultimately bring judgement upon our lives.
How do you want to stand before Him one day? Judged by the way He led you or the way you followed your own path? Has your path been really that great? Has it ended up like you thought it would go? Jesus doesn’t say His way is easy, just that it is good.
Do I trust You Lord with my life?
That is the question we should all ask ourselves.