Our culture tells us, “Follow your heart!” But God’s Word cries out: “Don’t follow your heart – follow Jesus!”
Jeremiah, chapters 28-30; 1 John, chapter 3
1 John 3:16-24 (NLT):
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know that he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
Jesus Showed Us What Real Love Is
Real love means giving up our lives for each other. I’m not sure we normally think in those terms, but there’s really no getting around it. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. That means that Jesus showed us real love – and called us to follow his example. Real love is not about emotions, or desires, or anything like that; it’s about self-giving commitment to whomever we love.
Jesus’ example also demonstrates what love is not. It is not about doing whatever the other person wants. God shows us that most of the time, his love goes in the exact opposite direction of what we want! (Until God has transformed our desires so that we start to want what he wants. And make no mistake: that’s exactly what God intends to do.) So when others try to tell us, “If you love me, you’d do this…” we need to be very careful. Love means that we want what is bestfor those we love, not necessarily what they want.
After all, the people of Jesus’ day didn’t want him to die for them; they wanted him to be their king! They wanted deliverance from the Roman government; he came to save us from our sins. Most of the people who thought they wanted to follow Jesus during his ministry ended up walking away, because he didn’t do it their way (see John 6:60-69).
Don’t “Follow Your Heart”
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9). So many people today tell us to “follow our hearts,” but the Bible shows us what a disaster that is. “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5). The flood didn’t change that. Human effort can’t change that. Only God can change it – we need a spiritual heart transplant!
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). The new heart that God gives us doesn’t enable us to only want the right things; it enables us to do the things that God has already commanded. “So that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
Don’t “Follow Your Heart” – Follow Jesus!
So what does this mean? Well, the good news is that God has given us his Spirit, to enable us to follow his commands. But there’s more! Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. As we grow and mature spiritually, we recognize the work that God still needs to do in us. We never achieve Christlikeness in this life, so there is always work to be done!
But God knows our hearts, and God is greater than our feelings. That means that when the enemy tries to dump guilt on us, we can refuse delivery – because our actions will show that we belong to the truth. And God is greater than our feelings, and he takes away the shame and guilt that the enemy tries to use to separate us from God.
So don’t “follow your heart” – follow Jesus!
Father, thank you for reminding us that you are greater than our hearts and our feelings. That means that we shouldn’t not let the enemy use guilt to drag us down. But it also means that we must not allow our feelings to overrule what you have commanded! Even though your Spirit lives in us, we are not infallible – and Satan never stops trying to defeat us. Help us not to follow our hearts, but to follow your commandments. That is the way to real life!