“Just Follow Your Heart”?

How many times have well-meaning people counseled someone by saying, “Just follow your heart”? It is one of those things which just “sounds right” to tell a person who is seeking direction. But it turns out that according to scripture, it is one of the worst pieces of advice one can give!

Proverbs 28:26 says: “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”  Far from saying, “follow your heart,” God’s word says here that if you trust in the direction of your own heart, you are FOOLISH!  Why would this be? Scripture teaches us elsewhere that our hearts are deceptive and fickle. Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick …”. Our hearts are tainted with sin, and cannot be trusted. They are so deceitful, that we can even be found deceiving ourselves. In light of that, one can see how “just following your heart” can be a very destructive course!  People have been known to “follow their heart” to marital infidelity, financial disaster, and all kinds of ruin.

But the Lord doesn’t leave us hanging. He gives us an alternative to trusting in our own sinful hearts. He says: “but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” Walking “wisely” is contrasted here to trusting in one’s own heart. The Bible teaches us that walking in wisdom means walking in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) and especially walking according to God’s word (Psalm 1, Psalm 119, etc.).  Scripture can reveal our blind spots — and wise, godly counselors (those who are really skilled in God’s word, not just our friends who are often too eager to tell us whatever we want to hear) can give us a perspective that is much more reliable than our own.

One thing those godly counselors will NOT tell you is “Just follow your heart.”  That saying is often a prescription for disaster!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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