The world encourages us to "follow our heart," but on the other hand, we hear others caution us—not to follow our hearts. So, which one is it—follow your heart or don't follow your heart? If my heart wants God, shouldn't I follow it? But what if I want something wrong for me, like forbidden love—should I still follow it? Before you and I can answer the question—is following your heart a bad thing? We must first understand what the heart is and what the Bible says about it?
When we speak of the heart, we're not referring to the muscle that pumps blood to all parts of our body. Instead, we often refer to the heart as thoughts or emotions— "the heart wants what it wants." But how does the Bible refer to our heart? In Deuteronomy 6:5, God commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, and might. The Hebrew word for heart is lēḇāḇ—meaning the mind, will, knowledge, conscience, inner man, and soul. It is used 231 times in the Bible to refer to the "heart." Also found in 1 Samuel 16:7— the Lord does not look at the outward appearance as we do but instead looks at the heart. God isn't looking at the muscle that pumps blood or the cute heart-shaped emoji synonymously associated with the heart; instead, he looks deep within. Our heart is susceptible and vulnerable to external forces and can be deceived (Deuteronomy 11:6). The condition of our soul is important to God; if it were not so, He would not have commanded us to love Him with all of it; in this way, we leave no room to be deceived.
Another Hebrew word used for the heart is lēḇ, a noun and a form of lēḇāḇ, used 508 times— it also means mind, will, understanding, knowledge, conscience, and inner man. In Ex. 9:12, we learn that God hardens Pharaoh's heart. And as you recall, Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go until the very end, thus leaving us to conclude that Pharoah lacked sympathy and compassion towards the Israelites. In other words, —he was— "heartless."
In the New Testament, the Greek word for heart— kardia—was used 159 times. And it means the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors. For example, in Matt 15:19 and Mark 7:21, Jesus said, "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." Our heart wields so much power and influence over us that whatever controls our heart—controls us.
Often, we think our heart was meant only for love. In a previous blog—When We Fail to Love With Our Mind, we addressed the importance of love having knowledge, but our hearts can also harbor our thoughts and knowledge. Psalm 119:11 "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." In Luke 5:21-22, "The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?" The mistake we often make is associating the heart with feelings only and the mind only with logic, but Jesus shows us that we can have thoughts in our hearts. Therefore, it is so important that you and I guard our hearts. For it houses our thoughts, emotions, will, knowledge and understanding. And out of it can flow good and evil; in fact, everything we do flows from the heart (Prov4:23). Every negative thought, fear, hurt, and desire, whether good or bad, comes out from the heart. The condition of your heart determines the health of your soul and what you will allow to lead you. "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45). Do you want to know what your heart is saying? Pay attention to the words you speak? Are they negative, full of resentment and bitterness, or do your words sing the praises of God? Do they yearn for God and His Word, or do they yearn for fame and the praises of men? The question isn't, "what's in your wallet?" But instead—what's in your heart? What are you allowing to control and drive you?
My prayer—is that we'll be vessels after God's own heart, rightly discerning truth, and may He guard our hearts against all evil (1 Sam 13:14) and fill it with the knowledge of Him. Only when God rules a heart does it become a heart worthy to follow.
Read Part II of this blog - A Hijacked Heart
Written by: Cheryl Carty-Strachan
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 Also, in Matt 22:37 and Mark 12:30