As a good mom, I should encourage my kids to pursue their dreams and set their sights on what they feel is right. At least that’s what our culture tells me I ought to do. It sounds like good advice on the surface. But is following your heart really a good message to be teaching my girls?
Now before you write me off, allow me to explain where I’m coming from. I followed my heart. I did what I thought was right. But in the end, it didn’t bring me the happiness I thought it would. In fact, I ended up with a “now what” kind of feeling. With every realized dream, I needed more. I never felt complete.
So I have to wonder why. Why is it that following my heart and pursuing my passions never seemed to satisfy? The more I had in life, the more I needed.
Then the thought occurred to me. Maybe I was feeling so dissatisfied and incomplete because they were MY desires and MY passions.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? – Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)
God’s Word is clear. I can’t trust my own heart. Following your heart when it’s known to be “desperately wicked” will only lead to an unhappy life. In fact, it may even be self-destructive.
And then [Jesus] added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” – Mark 7:20-23 (NLT)
Sin originates in the heart. For example, lust occurs in the heart long before a person acts on it.
Jesus was clear throughout His ministry – God is concerned with our hearts first and foremost. Most of us would say that adultery occurs when a person acts on their desires, but in God’s eyes, the sin occurs long before the act. Adultery committed in one’s heart is adultery in the eyes of God. (Matthew 5:28)
If sin originates in the heart, then following your heart will undoubtedly lead to sin.
So what do we do about these deceptive and wicked hearts?
We surrender them to God and exchange them for something better.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. – Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NLT)
When we surrender our hearts to God, He will be faithful to give us new hearts – hearts that long to please Him. He then transforms us from the inside out, and we gain new desires that align with His.
When we humble ourselves before God and allow Him to change our hearts, He is faithful to give us a heart we can trust – one that longs to please Him.
Instead of following our hearts into sin, we now have the opportunity to follow our hearts towards the purpose of God. So how do we make this happen?
We make God our treasure. We seek Him first above all else.
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. – Matthew 6:21 (NLT)
The only time following your heart is a good thing, is when you’re following the heart given to you by God.
If we make Jesus our treasure, our purpose in life, our everything – we can trust that the desires of our hearts will lead us towards our God-given purpose.
We will be led to obey Him.
We will be led to pursue the dreams He has for our lives.
And we will discover true joy when we begin to carry out His amazing plans for us.
When God is your heart’s desire, following your heart will always lead you to Him.