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Why Shouldn’t I Follow My Heart?

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The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

“Just follow your heart.” Our favorite characters follow this “wisdom” in movies and books, most psychologists recommend it, and we even sometimes applaud our own kids when they do it. This is the cry of the world’s culture: do what feels right or makes you happy. And what’s wrong with that? 

Nothing, if you don’t mind living a life apart from God’s presence and blessing. But for those of us who know God is our source of life—this is not an option. For us, Jeremiah’s wisdom is critical: the heart is deceitful above all things. We can’t trust it

As described biblically, our heart is the seat of our emotions, thoughts, and will. As Proverbs 4:23 says, Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. This means much of what life is flows out of what is in our hearts—and it’s worth guarding with all our might. The things we think have a lot to do with the way we feel, and the way we feel drives the decisions we make. 

When we choose not to take our thoughts captive to obey the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5) or renew our minds with God’s perspective (Romans 12:2), we are left with the fruit of the flesh—which is death (Romans 8:6)

We like to think our thoughts and feelings will at least help our decision-making process, but there is a reason that Solomon, in all his wisdom, came to this conclusion: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Relying on our hearts is no help at all. We need God’s Spirit to give us life-giving direction for our choices. When we don’t, destruction is around the corner. 

Do you recall the last time you followed your heart? It’s often memorable even if you didn’t realize what you were doing, because that moment probably turned out to be quite painful. Perhaps you just really wanted to accomplish something and didn’t know what to do, so you did what felt good—or just whatever seemed best to you. King Saul once did exactly that. 

In 1 Samuel 28:5-6, it says, When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him. Saul had set his thoughts on the terrifying reality of an impending army, and that meant his heart was in a terrible place, full of fear. When he didn’t get what he wanted, he followed his heart all the way to destruction—and asked for help from a medium, something expressly forbidden by God. 

The end of the story speaks for itself. Later, in 1 Chronicles 10, we hear how Saul killed himself on the field of battle. It says, So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance (1 Chronicles 10:13). 

We desperately need to keep tight reins on our heart—not to let it do whatever it wishes and follow it to destruction. Our future and the future of those we love often depends on it. As David once cried out, we can say, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10), and God will answer. Jesus promised to all who would believe and obey that He would come and make His home in our hearts—and His presence changes everything (John 14:23)


Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

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About The Author

Jonathan Macnab

Jonathan works with CBN’s Operation Blessing, and he considers it a great privilege to be a small part of bringing God’s love to the nations. He’s a published author who lives near Tupelo, Mississippi, with his wife and precious kids. They enjoy exploring new places and tasting new treats.

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