Everyone faces choices in life. That is a daily part of being human. Thankfully, most of the choices we face are of a variety that don't require months of deep meditation. You really shouldn't need time away on a mountain side to choose where to eat out with the family.
But some of the choices we face are significant and can leave us unsettled and distraught. Whether they come during those difficult teen years or at any other point along life's journey, every one of us faces crossroads (and usually many of them). And most of these choices will have lasting impact for the rest of your life (and often for those around you). These seasons can be tough ones.
Yet I have noticed something in our culture that concerns me. I think the underlying intent is well meaning. But I have observed lately that people are quick to offer a particular phrase as some type of all encompassing solution. Especially when the situation someone is in perplexes them and they really don't know what to suggest. We turn to people and say "just follow your heart."
It's made me think. It is really that simple? Just look inside your heart and whatever is there, follow it? I think the problem I have with the suggestion, regardless of how reasonable it sounds, is that it is based on a false premise. It is founded upon the idea that the human heart is this mythical place of total purity and that it couldn't possible steer you wrong. The advice is based on the notion that if you just "follow your heart" that all good and right and happiness will come.
I will agree that the heart is capable of some wonderful things. But God's word declares it's also capable of some not so wonderful things. The prophet tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV). I can't help but draw my attention to the phrase "above all things." Meaning that for all the things that can go right in the human heart, all above else, our hearts can lead us to some pretty terrible and ugly places.
Now I don't want to sound like I believe everything inside us is basically evil (that would be for another discussion). My point here is the idea of "following your heart" as a simple overarching piece of advice. If you're going to follow your heart, you first need to determine who is your heart following? This needs to be asked especially if this advice is being given at one of those critical crossroads moments. Follow your heart? That depends.
If your heart has YOU at its center and YOU are the primary focus of all you want and do, the Bible labels this "selfish." And we are told to "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition " Philippians 2:3a NKJV). If your heart's motivation is just pleasing you and putting you "above all things," well, that kind of heart should never be followed anywhere.
I will agree that if your heart is truly pure, then you should follow it. But God's word gives us ways to examine that. The Psalmist tells us, "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully." (Psalm 24:3-4 NKJV). The only way we can victoriously navigate those crossroads moments is to be able to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place. But that will only happen if we have a "pure heart." Thankfully, we are then told what this means pure hearts have not lifted their souls to idols. Simply, an idol is ANYTHING that is of greater importance to you than the Lord.
This includes all those selfish ambitions mentioned earlier. For us to gain that "pure heart" that we can then follow, we must place God where He belongs first! No other desire or aim can come before being in a relationship with Him and serving His kingdom. And every desire or aim must fall in line with His way and His truth also. Only then can purity become woven into the fabric our hearts.
I pray that in all of your crossroads moments, His Spirit will lead you and walk with you. I pray that your heart will remain steadfast and fixed on Jesus. For I know, when that is true, following your heart will lead you to blessed places. But when your heart doesn't follow Him, following it is the last thing you should ever do.
Hiram Claudio is a minister and bible teacher who has traveled to 8 nations spreading the Good News of faith in Christ and victory through His name. He is married (for 29 years). He and his wife live in New York and have two sons.
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