Recently, I received a letter from a real estate agent. She said she understood the problems we are facing in our nation (she’s way ahead of me on that one!) and why people are nervous about the housing market.

She insisted, however, if we had a dream house in mind, we should follow our hearts and go for it! That set me thinking — but not about houses and relocating. I’m not interested in moving anytime soon!

Follow your heart sounded like, “Don’t stop to think!  Just go after what you want.” Her letter encouraged us to buy the dream house without asking ourselves why we want it. Follow your heart, to my ears, sounded romantic and liberating — and seriously misguided and ill-advised!  

Having said that, there are questions that need to be asked. What is the role of the heart in the life of the individual? Scripture has a lot to say on it — over 1,000 references! Proverbs 4:23 states the heart is the wellspring of life.  

But Jesus cautioned, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19), and lots of other nefarious things. Perhaps Jeremiah put it best: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). 

In other words, the heart is a wellspring that does not unfailingly produce sweet, fresh water!  

Now, if the heart is constitutionally corrupted and yet is the wellspring of life, two things are obviously very necessary. First, it needs to be cleaned up, and second, it should not be trusted implicitly! If the heart has a “heart problem” and the environment in which we live is toxic, it would seem we are extremely vulnerable to warped values, unwise decisions, and perverted motives.

That’s why the heart should be exposed to God’s truth, which when responded to acts as a purifying agent (Psalm 119:11). At all times, its motives should be scrutinized with a healthy dose of suspicion, or in the words of Scripture, “Above all else, guard your heart” (see Proverbs 4:23).

Here are two ways to guard your heart. First, follow the principle in Psalm 119:11 and hide God’s Word in your heart regularly. Second, make sure you pray for yourself and others so that Christ will be in your heart through faith (Ephesians 3:17). 

The Word carefully stored in the heart is an antidote to the values, decisions, and motives that are deviant. And the living Christ within is the enabling power who prompts and motivates us not to follow our hearts…but to walk in the Spirit.      

So should I just follow my heart?  Is the heart a reliable guide to sound decision making? What do you think?

It’s clear the state of our heart impacts the health of our spiritual life. If you’re not living a life of spiritual substance, the first thing you need to examine is the condition of your heart!

For more teaching from Psalms, you might like Stuart’s series,

Secrets of the Heart.