When I met my husband, Joe, at college many years ago, I was still recovering from a destructive relationship that ended badly. On our very first date, Joe declared, "I'm going to marry you!" From day one, Joe was convinced that we were destined to be together. I wasn't as certain as he was, though, and when my old sweetheart suddenly wanted to get back together, I was torn over what I should do. Finally, I made the decision not to follow my heart, but to follow what I believed was godly wisdom. I turned my back on that old, destructive relationship, and I turned my affections toward my future husband, Joe. More than 35 years later, I'm so glad that I did.
There's a popular expression that says, "Follow your heart." Many people use it to advise and counsel others. And some apply it to their own lives and decisions. Often, we don't even question what we think is a "tried-and-true" principle. But I want to challenge this way of thinking today. The Bible says: "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered." (Proverbs 28:26 NASB) One thing we can learn from this verse is that we simply cannot trust our heart. It can deceive us and lead us astray, far from the good plans and purposes that God has in store for us. That's why the prophet Jeremiah wrote: "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT) The fact is, the Lord never intended for us to be led by our heart. He expects us to be led by His Spirit. The apostle Paul wrote: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." (Romans 8:14 NLT) Jesus bought our freedom with His own blood. He made it possible for us to be led by divine wisdom, instead of by our own fleshly emotions. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." (Galatians 5:24-25 NLT) We no longer have to let our emotions rule and reign over us. Jesus made us able to make the right choice every single time.
The Bible says: "Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life." (Proverbs 4:23 TLB) God wants us to take the area of our affections seriously. He knows that the people and things we value will have a tremendous impact upon our lives. If we value our own dreams and desires more than the plans that God has in store for us, they can lead us astray. Jesus knew this when He said: "Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be My disciple." (Luke 14:33 MSG) Our Savior paid the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, and He expects us to make some sacrifices of our own. What we need to focus on is that the sacrifices we make will be in our own best interests. When the Lord asks us to give up something we care about, it means that He has something much better in store for us. We have to trust in His wisdom and goodness. I don't know what tough decisions you might be facing today, but I can tell you this: If you will follow the Lord's leading, instead of your heart, You will experience the blessed rewards that come from a grateful and loving God.
Prayer: Lord, help me to examine my life for any areas where I might have allowed my heart to lead me astray. Remind me often that it's not Your will for me to "follow my heart," but to follow Your Spirit. Thank You that as I submit to Your plans and purposes, You will bless me spiritually, financially, and socially!
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