Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jeremiah 17:9: Should you Follow your Heart??

I can't recall how many times I have heard people say, "follow your heart" or ask, "What is your heart telling you?" Our culture sends us many messages...some positive and some negative...and as Christians we have the responsibility to test this worldly wisdom against the standard of Scripture. Many pieces of advice given to us by society may sound great, but if they don't align with the one Truth revealed in God's Word, we must reject them. "Follow your heart" sounds sweet and inspiring, etc...but is it biblical?

Unfortunately, it's not. Jeremiah 17:9 reveals to us the true state of our heart. It says:
"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"
Ouch...not very optimistic news about the state of our hearts. The truth is, our hearts are wicked, and they deceive us. We can't trust in our own fleshly feelings and impulses, because we all have a sin nature.

The advice to "follow your heart" is perhaps the most dangerous when it comes to romantic relationships. "If it feels right, do it," seems to be the common worldly philosophy when it comes to love. The world seems to think that when you fall in love with someone, it's all must obey your heart. That may sound good, but what if you're already married? What if the person you fall for is married? What if he's a drug-dealer, an alcoholic, a convicted felon? Do you follow your heart then? Can you see how this is quite dangerous advice to follow? I imagine you won't "fall in love" at age 16 with a drug addict or a married man. But, many of you will fall for boys who you know aren't living for the Lord. You want a boyfriend so bad, and you like a certain guy so much, that you would rather feed that desire than do what is honoring to the Lord. Our hearts continually deceive us into justifying decisions that don't glorify God. We can't trust ourselves! We must put our trust in God alone!

I'm currently reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and I am loving it. One reason that I am enjoying it is that it sends such a different message than our culture sends us. In the book (spoiler alert!), Jane falls desperately in love with Mr. Rochester. They seem to be so perfectly suited for each other and their love for one another is passionate and strong. After Mr. Rochester confesses his feelings for Jane and proposes to her, she experiences sheer and total bliss. She is beside herself with happiness and head over heals for her fiance. The only problem occurs on their wedding day, when she finds out that Mr. Rochester has secretly been keeping his insane and uncontrollable wife locked in his attic. After hearing this, Jane is undone. Her feelings for Mr. Rochester remain as strong and fervent as ever before, in fact, she forgives him immediately for deceiving her. However, she quickly decides that she can't compromise her integrity and stay involved with someone who is already married, despite the fact that his wife is demented. Listen to her inner struggle:
"I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fury iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. One dead word comprised my intolerable duty--'Depart!' (321).
The easy thing for Jane to do would be to stay with Mr. Rochester, the one man she truly loved and adored. At least, that's what her heart was telling her to do. However, she decided to deny her own emotions and do what she knew to be right. She couldn't stay with someone who was married, not matter how much her heart clung to him.

A story like Jane Eyre is practically unheard of today. The advice nowadays would be to let your heart lead you. Following your heart is the easier thing to do, and it will make you temporarily happy as you indulge your feelings. Following God, on the other hand, will be harder. It will mean denying yourself and surrendering your life and desires to Him. But by choosing His way, you will experience the joy, peace, hope, and purpose that you can find no where else. Girls, don't follow your heart...follow God's heart~