"Just follow your heart."
Every time I see that phrase tweeted or represented in a pretty meme of some kind, I want to yell, "No! Don't do it!!"
It sounds good on the surface. Just go with whatever you're feeling—whatever seems comfortable, or convenient or maybe even conforming in the moment.
If you follow Jesus, however, you have to face a rather hard truth. Jeremiah put it this way: "The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).
Let me affirm the fact that I believe that every person on earth bears the image of God. We're all capable of thinking, feeling and acting in ways that reflect God's very likeness.
I also believe, however, that our default autopilot settings are all messed up because of the entrance of sin into the human story. This renders our hearts naturally untrustworthy.
This isn't popular, especially in affluent cultures where we're pretty proud of where our big dreams have taken us.
It's unsafe to simply follow your heart, because the condition of your heart is always changing. Your mind, your emotions, your preferences are always in a state of flux.
Following your heart can lead you into unhealthy relationships, unwise investments, a job you aren't really a fit for and much worse.
So, what should you follow? To put it simply, you need the more sure word that God has provided. He has generously spoken in nature, through your friends and especially in the Bible.
Granted, you may not understand it all, but whatever God reveals will always be higher and more reliable than any whim of the human heart.
Don't just follow your heart. Learn wisdom. Establish guardrails. Follow good examples. Ask sages and mentors. Search the Scriptures. Observe what has worked for others.
Then do the smart, right thing, even when it goes against what your heart may be telling you in a given moment.
Brandon Cox has been a pastor since he was 19 and has served churches large and small, including serving as a pastor at Saddleback Church. Currently, he is planting a purpose-driven church in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as editor of pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders, as well as a blog about men's issues, a blog about blogging and a blog about social media.
This article originally appeared at brandonacox.com.
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