Article by Michael Goforth II:
You’ll find it on movies, in songs, plastered all over the internet, and regularly stated from the lips of those around you…
“Just follow your heart. . .”
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but can I be honest with you for a moment? This is some of the worst advice you’ll ever hear. Please, don’t follow your heart.
If you follow your heart, your decisions will be completely dependent on the weather, how much sleep you got last night, or whether or not you had a bad burrito from the cafeteria yesterday. Since all of these things affect how you feel, all of these things will affect your decisions.
And not only is this advice completely unreliable, it’s also unbiblical. Listen to what the prophet Jeremiah says on the matter, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Deceitful and desperately wicked. . .not exactly the description you’d want on your counselor’s résumé.
In Proverbs, a book written to help God’s people live wisely, Solomon says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
In other words, your heart is not something you want to rely on. You shouldn’t trust it, and you certainly shouldn’t follow it. The wise course of action is to trust the Lord and let Him direct your paths.
So instead of following your heart, here are five questions to ask before making a decision:
1. Have I asked the Lord for wisdom on this decision?
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
Always ask God for wisdom before making a decision. Then, go to where His wisdom is most clearly revealed, which brings us to the next question.
2. What does Scripture say about this decision?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16
Scripture is the source of truth. (Jn. 17:17) The very Word of God. (2 Pet. 1:21) Scripture is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. (Ps. 119:105)
We should always consult the Bible in all of our decisions.
Does this decision involve a command to follow? A sin to avoid? A principle to apply?
A simple way to ensure we are making the right decision is to compare it to what Scripture says.
3. Have I received wise biblical counsel on this decision?
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: But in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
If you’re struggling to apply the Scriptures to your decision, it can be helpful to receive biblical counsel from another wise Christian on this issue. It is also wise to compare your conclusions on a decision with the biblical counsel of someone else.
4. Will this decision help me bring glory to God?
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Since the purpose of your life is to glorify God, you should always ask this question before making a decision. In the verse above, Paul even mentions seemingly mundane activities like eating and drinking to make sure you get the point. God’s glory should be considered in everything we do.
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He said it was to love God with our entire being. (Mt. 22:37-38) If a decision will not help you love God more and bring glory to Him, it is not a good decision.
After stating the greatest commandment, Jesus threw in a second one as a bonus. He said, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Mt. 22:39) This brings us to our final question.
5. How will this decision affect the good of others?
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
When making a decision, Christians should always consider the interests of others (Phil. 2:4) and only do to others what they would want done to them. (Mt. 7:12)
These five questions are by no means exhaustive, but they should provide a helpful framework for making decisions. And they will certainly make a better compass than your heart.
So please, don’t follow your heart. I know it’s popular, but it’s just really bad advice. Your own understanding is not a safe thing to lean against. Instead, trust the Lord, and allow Him to direct your paths.