Follow Your Heart?

Often, I hear the phrase “Follow your heart” as an encouragement to people to do whatever they think is best based on ‘gut feelings.’ They might also say “Follow your gut.” I believe we all have a conscience given by God and our conscience along with leadings from the Holy Spirit will help us to make decisions based on right and wrong.

And I admit the idea of following my heart used to be something I didn’t think too much about. I know I’ve let even major decisions be based on emotions. Then I became familiar with the Bible and what it had to say about just how poorly my heart acts as a leader in such cases.

Here’s some biblical wisdom I’ve picked up over the years

Jesus speaking in a short sermon: “For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Luke 6:44,45

“The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick–who can understand it? I, the LORD, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9,10

“All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2

In addition to heeding what God says in his Word about our actions, words, thoughts and attitudes, I like this advice from Oswald Chambers.

“The only test as to whether we ought to allow an emotion to have its way is to see what the outcome of the emotion will be. Push it to its logical conclusion, and if the outcome is something God would condemn, allow it no more way.” From “My Utmost For His Highest”

Most of the time, I know exactly what God would like me to do. I know his heart. Since a person’s heart is the seat of emotions, following God’s heart is always the best decision.

Father, I know my selfish tendencies. I ask you to constantly remind me that when I give over to my emotions, I often fail to make right decisions. I want to please you. Guide me with your Truth. Test my heart and lead me in the way everlasting.


Time to De-Clutter

In a burst of manic energy, I did some de-cluttering in my office. I’d needed to do it for a long time and it felt really good having some breathing space in there.

While I was cleaning, I managed to shed the equivalent of six banker’s boxes of paper, numerous items for the local charity discount store, the banker’s boxes themselves and even a bowling ball. I’m proud to say that all the items were recycled and didn’t find their way to a landfill. At least not by me.

Months later when I was planning my move from a two bedroom to a one bedroom apartment, I was forced to take a hard look at everything I owned. The Lord had directed me to simplify my life and this move was part of it. I would have to release some of my possessions. I wasn’t being asked to give up everything, but I was being asked to consider what really matters.

As far as material possessions are concerned, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19,21).

The most important thing, Jesus said, if we want to be his disciples is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him (Luke 9:23). This is how we find real meaning in our lives. (Mark 8:35, 36)

As I worked through the physical de-cluttering, I thought of some of the things that have cluttered up my heart and kept me from following Jesus according to his invitation. I praise God that he is helping me also release:

specific rules of men having no bearing on my salvation
resentments over hurts caused by others

Without God’s help, de-cluttering my heart would be impossible. I haven’t the strength to let go of such things, because my “self” is so wrapped up in them. I also know that, just as I de-cluttered my home, there’s an ongoing process in which God prompts me to let go of those things that hinder my walk with him.

At times I hear a voice of rationalization: “This just might come in handy sometime.” But if I’m honest with myself, I see that voice for what it is. Hanging on to the old attitudes and behaviors is the equivalent of hanging onto material stuff. (Like a bowling ball I haven’t used in years.) They’re just not working anymore.

Those things drag me down and keep me from living in freedom. That saying about the things you own eventually coming to own you is true. I know because I’ve experienced it.

I know what it is to be ensnared by evil. To live in a cage of fear. To have no hope. Remembering what the darkness was like reminds me to be grateful for what I’ve been given and to freely give what’s been so freely given to me.

“De-cluttering” is part of the work God’s Spirit does for us when we choose to follow Christ. The Lord may not ask us to give up all our earthly goods, but he’ll certainly be there to help clean us up on the inside.

When I open my hand to let go of my “clutter” and let God work in my life, I discover what really matters. With an open hand I’m in a position to receive what he has to give. Then I can pour it out for others.