This post last updated on November 12th, 2021
Listen to your heart is a quote that comes to mind when I think about things we say and attribute to God, even if He never said them. This one is embraced by nearly everyone at some point and in some situation, but the reality is we can’t trust our hearts!
Just like when people say “God has a plan,” the suggestion to “listen to your heart” usually comes with good intent.
The trouble comes when we follow advice to “just do what feels right,” or when we counsel others to “follow your heart.” Encouragement is almost always the good intention, but we’re leading them and being led in the wrong direction with this advice.
The Heart Defined
First, note that when I talk about the heart in this post, I don’t mean the muscle in your body beating away and pumping blood.
Figured it would be a good idea to set the context before I talk about a sickened heart in need of a transplant!
Listen to Your Heart
This can be said a few different ways, like follow your heart, or maybe trust in your feelings.
I get it. In the context of every day life stuff, following your heart isn’t all that earth shattering or life changing. Maybe at those times we’re really saying, “be true to yourself,” or something along the lines of “guard yourself.”
However, when you or I are discipling a fellow believer or providing Biblical counsel on the bigger, more life altering things and we tell them to “listen to your heart,” we’re really instructing them to trust in their own thoughts and feelings.
In other words, to walk in the way of their emotions, which can be unreliable at best and volatile at worst!
It’s like this: God tells us quite a lot in His word about listening to your heart. When we look at the things God did say about the condition of our hearts, it becomes evident that we’re in serious heart trouble.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” That’s true of my heart, of your heart, and of every heart beating in every human chest.
Truth is, we need a spiritual heart transplant.
Another reason why it’s disastrous to trust in our own hearts is because our hearts are at the center of our fallen, sinful nature. Jesus teaches us, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19), and Proverbs 28:26 says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”
And then in Proverbs 19:3, we’re told that it’s our hearts that actually turn against God in fury and indignation: “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.”
I don’t know about you, but that is not where I want to live.
Whew, how about some encouragement?
All is not lost in hopelessness, but we do need a resolution that we cannot find within ourselves. The solution to the deceitful nature of our hearts is also found in the Bible and I hope you find this reassuring:
- Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
- Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
- Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
We also find that it’s our heart that’s at the center of the eternal hope of our salvation in Christ:
- Romans 10:10 – “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
- Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
- Romans 5:5 – “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Remember that to follow your heart, to listen to your heart, or to do what just feels right has disaster written all over it! Instead, memorize what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23 when he instructed, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”