Follow your heart

One of the silliest Hollywood slogans of all time has to be this: “Follow your heart.”

Really? Have you found your feelings to be particularly reliable? The last time you felt like giving someone a piece of your mind, was that a good idea? The last time you had feelings for someone not your spouse, was that a good idea?

“The heart is deceitful,” the prophet warns us, “and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

It may be necessary to worship God from the heart (i.e. with our feelings), but feelings are ephemeral and unreliable; they are spiritually bipolar; they never trump Scripture!

If our worship was hypocritical, if we didn’t mean the words we said, it is probable that our hearts were cold and indifferent first. If our actions were spiteful and unkind toward others, it is probable that our hearts harbored resentment towards those people first. If our actions resulted in harm or division in the church, it is probable that our hearts were proud first.

“There is a way that seems right to a man,” the Wise man observes (Proverbs 14:12). That’s the way we think. As humans, we think we have all the answers. It is hubris, but it’s not unusual. “All a man’s ways,” Proverbs reminds us, “seem innocent to him” (Proverbs 16:1-3). Why? Because the easiest person in the universe to fool is yourself! That is why we are told that “The Lord detests the proud of heart” (Proverbs 16:5). Maybe the heart isn’t so pure and innocent a thing as it may seem!

Proverbs urges us to “weigh” our responses (Proverbs 15:28). Here is a principle that is so basic, and so neglected: Think before you speak! Weigh your answers, don’t just start “lighting people up” with your angry responses. “Who can say,” the Wise Man asks, “I have made my heart pure, I am clean from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9). Allow for the possibility – OK, the probability – that you, too, are a sinner, and in need of heart care!

Because our hearts are so fallible, we will need to look for answers from a divine source, to “lean not on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5,6).

In our service for Christ, we do not follow our heart, we follow our Lord. We do that, however, with all our heart!


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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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