Why 'follow your heart' is the Gospel of Disney, not the Gospel of Christ.
It seems like everywhere you look, someone is urging you to ‘follow your heart’.
Whether it’s TV, movies or plastered across the Internet, it seems like you can’t avoid this modern-day mantra.
Anyone who faces any important choice in life can’t possibly go wrong, it seems - if only they’d just ‘follow their heart’...
I guess some people offer this advice because they just don’t know what else to say. And they figure that you can never go wrong with a platitude. But I think it goes deeper than that. This unrelenting advice to ‘follow your heart’ is part of our culture. Figure out what will make you happy, and pursue that.
And whatever you do, don’t let anything or anyone - particularly stuffy old institutions like the church or (heaven forbid) the Bible - stop you.
It’s a creed that, at face value, sounds so simple and beautiful and liberating. And for people without Christ in their lives, it’s a tempting gospel to believe.
Until you consider what the bible says about the heart.
Because the “follow your heart” creed certainly isn’t found in the Bible. It’s more Gospel of Disney than Gospel of Jesus...
So what does the bible REALLY say about the heart? Well, the first mention of ‘heart’ in the bible is in Genesis 6.5
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
Doesn’t sound too promising. And it doesn’t get any better when we hear from the philosopher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.
“The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3)
Meanwhile, the prophet Jeremiah didn’t pull any punches.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17.9)
Jesus puts his finger on the problems with the human heart when he reminds his listeners that, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15.19)
Following your heart will get you nowhere. Our hearts will NEVER save us. Instead we need to be saved FROM our hearts.
Thankfully, Jesus offers us a better way. Instead of FOLLOWING our hearts, Jesus shows us how to LEAD our hearts.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns his followers about the dangers of pursuing earthly treasures and neglecting heavenly treasures:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20)
So there’s the command: store up treasure in heaven, not on earth...
But look closely at what Jesus says in the very next verse,
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6.21)
Do you see what Jesus does? He does not give a command based around following our hearts. He does the opposite. He gives a command based around leading our hearts.
It’s as if he is saying: ‘Here is where your heart needs to go—so take active steps to lead your heart there. Don’t sit back and wait for your heart to tell you what to do. Take charge of your heart. Lead your heart.’
Jesus knows exactly where our hearts need to be - set on the things on heaven, not on the things of earth
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, (Colossians 3:1)
Invest in the things of heaven and eternity, make that your priority and your focus, and your heart will follow. Lead your heart where it needs to go.
Thankfully, God doesn’t just give us a command and leave us to sink or swim. Through the prophet Ezekiel, he promises that one day he will provide the way
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
Wonderfully, in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of God’s Spirit, that day has now come. We are part of a new covenant - one in which we are given new hearts
The biblical way is NOT to follow our hearts. Instead, we should lead our hearts where they need to go. As we do that, his Spirit will transform our hearts so that, one step at a time. Our hearts become a little less taken with the things of this world and a little more fixed on the things of God.
Our hearts cannot save us, because what’s wrong with our hearts is the heart of our problem.
Therefore, DON’T believe in your heart; direct your heart to believe in God.
DON’T follow your heart; follow Jesus.