I think that some of the worst advice that I’ve ever received while growing up was to “listen to my heart.” On the surface it sounds pretty good. This pithy statement has been made into a song (thanks Roxette), it’s been on t-shirts, volumes have been written on it, and motivational speakers swear by it. It’s meant to boost our confidence and give us purpose in life. But I think that the idea of “listening to our heart” is a bunch of crap. Listening to our heart is what gets most people into trouble.

The bible teaches us a lot about our heart. Here are some examples:

  • “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26 NKJV)
  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)
  • “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19 ESV)

These verses don’t exactly paint a picture of the type of heart that most people tell us to listen to, does it? That’s because “the heart” that we’re told to listen to is not the type of heart that we actually have. Our heart is sinful; it’s often self-centered, deceiving, and the root of evil. And yet many of us use this very heart in making decisions and finding direction in life. Listen to what Spurgeon has to say about the heart:

“There have been men who have asserted that sins are merely accidents of man’s position. But the Savior says they come out of his heart. Some have affirmed that they are mistakes of his judgment—that the social system bears so harshly at certain points that men can scarcely do otherwise than offend—for their judgment misleads them. The Savior, however, traces these offenses not to the head and its mistaken judgments, but to the heart and its unholy affections. He plainly tells us that the part of human nature which yields such poisonous fruit is not a bough which may be sawn off, a limb which may be cut away—but the very core and substance of the man—his heart.”

The heart is wicked, but so many of us live according to it. David confesses “surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” The heart, the core of who we are, has always been sinful and needs to be transformed. This can only be accomplished by trusting in Jesus, the sinless one, to transform us from the inside out. Our heart needs to be broken and reshaped to reflect the character of Jesus. This process begins at the moment we are born-again through faith, and it continues as we are in fellowship with Him and dying to ourselves – daily.

David pleads: “create in me a clean heart, O God…” and that needs to be our prayer as well. We need to understand, as David did, that such change can only happen when God works in and through our lives.

Let’s stop encouraging each other with lies – don’t always listen to your heart. Listen first to Jesus. He’s the one that formed it and we need to depend on Him to re-form it to reflect His own.