“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 NASB
I don’t mean to be cliché – but if I had a penny for every time someone told me, “Just follow your heart!” in response to some sort of problem I was experiencing . . . well, let’s just say I might finally be able to pay off my college tuition.
It seems encouraging to think that we can trust ourselves to have the right answer to everything, if we would just look deep enough within our heart’s interior to the desires and emotions that rest there. Scripture speaks to the contrary, though – rather than affirming our culture’s idea that the key to success and happiness lies within ourselves, it says that when we look within our hearts we find only deceit and wickedness.
Earlier in Jeremiah 17, in the fifth verse, God declares that “cursed in the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength.” Further, Proverbs 14:12 says that “there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Many popular translations phrase this verse as “in the end it leads to death,” but the NASB’s choice of wording hits the nail on the head when it says, “its end is the way of death.”
The human will has a deep-rooted tendency to actively purpose itself to travel down the road of unrighteousness and destruction. But thank God that we have an alternative, listed earlier in Jeremiah 17:7-8, which says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord . . . for he will be like a tree planted by the water, which extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes.”
Father, help me to reject the guidance of my sinful heart, and direct me instead to the path of righteousness. Give me discernment to see the difference between my own will and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I want Your Word to be the final authority in my life, even if that means denying myself.
Can you think of a time where you “followed your heart” but realized later that you made a mistake in doing so? Sometimes we choose what we want and what we feel is best over what we know is the right thing to do. Praise God that He can work those things out for good. How might you decipher between your will and God’s will in the future?