“Follow your heart.”
My wife and I have reached a point in our relationship where the mutual exchanging of gifts isn’t necessary for our enjoyment of Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Days. We occasionally exchange gifts, but most years we “give” each other something of major expense at a random time during the year and we allow that to be our one-time annual material display of affection; it may be a shared vacation, a major household repair, or sometimes even a medical procedure. (This year, my wife gave me a quadruple bi-pass for our anniversary.)
Being this comfortable with one another is satisfying, but it can occasionally produce anxiety, especially when I don’t know what the rules are for an upcoming event. There is always that quandary of, “Is she expecting a gift this time? If so, how expensive a gift? Does she have a gift for me?”
A few days ago, I asked my wife straight out if she had a gift for me, and what the expectations are for this year’s Christmas. In female fashion, she avoided the question and left me hanging with a vague, “Maybe.”
Today, knowing the time is getting short, I again straightforwardly asked my wife what she expected.
She impishly grinned and then responded, “Follow your heart.”
What an answer. Yeah, I know what she means, and what I should do. Yeah, I know that I shouldn’t even have to ask the question to begin with; I should automatically have a gift purchased, wrapped, and hidden away regardless of her expectations. But most men don’t think that way. We deal in expectations.
“Follow your heart.” Three words a man hates to hear because he knows his heart will lead him in a different direction than his loved one expects.
Spiritually, many people believe “Follow your heart,” is God’s answer to the question, “What do you expect of me?”
It is true that we accept God’s saving grace by a faith which originates from our hearts. (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:9,10). But our hearts will not produce a proper faith if they are not trained by God’s word.
Many a murderer, assailant, or thief has followed his heart, committing acts of violence against others because his heart was not trained by God’s word. Many a religious zealot has committed acts of violence against others or practiced self-abusive asceticism in the name of Jesus as he followed a heart untrained in God’s word. Many a well-meaning, truth-seeking lost soul has fallen under the spell of a golden-tongued orator who falsely claimed God’s inspiration; the seeker, following his/her untrained heart, has entrusted all to the golden-tongued wolf parading in sheep’s clothing.
The Bible plainly teaches that the untrained heart is not a trustworthy guide when it comes to following God. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Our hearts will be controlled by whatever we value at the moment. Without God’s word as a guide, the heart will fickly be lead from one treasure to another. Indeed, the heart is a great follower, but a terrible leader.
However, when we allow God’s word to train our hearts, then we can follow the admonition, “Follow your heart,” because they will value that which God values. And the life they produce will be a life solidly grounded in truth and not one unstably built on maybes.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7)
“So faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
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