This latest edition of Friend Requests is going to be a touchy subject, dealing with matters of the heart. In fact it is all about the heart. Is the heart a trustworthy thing? Should you follow it? But before I we dive into this question, let’s look at the popular idea of following your heart by looking at kitschy social media graphic posts.
Clearly there’s a lot of advice out there to follow your heart. But I’m going to take a little bit of a different avenue to get at the answer to the question of whether or not it’s good to follow your heart. My starting point is going to be two statements that Jesus made concerning the heart.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
I believe these two verses contain some of the most potent teachings about the human heart. Let’s look at the statement from Matthew 6:21: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In essence Jesus is saying your heart will be with whatever is most valuable to you. Actually it’s one of those chicken-and-egg statements. Your heart will be with what you value most because whatever you value most will be on your heart. There is an incredible implication to this. You will naturally pursue those things that are in your heart, without being prompted or told to do so because we always pursue the things we believe are most valuable to us.
Notice, we always pursue the things we believe to be most valuable. That’s a subjective matter. What one person believes is best maybe be what the next person believes is the worst. There’s a little restaurant in Steelville, Missouri called Dairy Isle that has maybe the best hamburgers in the area. I will rearrange my schedule, drive the miles, lie to my kids, take an alias, move heaven and earth if necessary if a strong craving for one of their burgers comes on me. So of course, because I delight in their burgers so much, I had to share them with Radene. I finally had a chance to take her there a while back. I was so excited for her to try them. And her response was, “Meh.”
You might as well have killed my puppy . . . if I had one. What was the most valuable burger for me, wasn’t even on the radar for Radene, and my feelings were wounded. Now, expand that out to real issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality, religion, money, family, relationships . . . you name it. The hurt is amplified exponentially by the amount of value we place on the issue. When someone devalues what you find most valuable your heart is wounded in the process. The greater the assigned value, the greater the hurt, the greater the response to the hurt.
Here’s where Jesus’ statement in Luke 6:45 comes in. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Your behavior, your words, your thoughts all proceed from and orbit around what’s in your heart. So your heart is wherever your treasure is, and therefore whatever it is you treasure most will affect your thoughts, words, and actions the most.
Now, Jesus says that good people will produce good things from the good treasure in their heart, and evil people will produce evil things from the evil treasure in their hearts. Aha! So as long as you and I are value and treasure good things, then our lives will produce good fruit. Not so fast. Who are these good people he’s talking about? The Scripture says that no one is good (Psalm 14:1; Romans 3:12). Jesus tells us very clearly that God alone is good (Luke 18:19). So God is the only good guy in the universe (and by implication Jesus, because he’s God . . . think Trinity). That leaves all of us squarely in the evil camp. So here’s the deal: your heart, my heart, all of our hearts are helplessly wicked.
Now here’s where it this starts to mess with our sense of up and down. If all of our hearts are helplessly wicked, then the things that we treasure will be wicked because, as I noted earlier, Jesus has pointed out that our our treasure and our heart are inseparably linked. So even on our best days, the inclinations of our hearts are still turned selfishly inward, and our best acts of kindness will are still stained by wicked self-interest.
It just so happens this is why we need a Savior! It also happens that the only way we can be the good man with good treasure who produces good fruit is if we receive a new heart when we are born anew into the kingdom of God. But even as citizens of God’s kingdom with new hearts and new spirits (Ezekiel 36:26) Christ is the only reason we have good treasure in our hearts. That’s because HE IS the good treasure! And as we allow him to live through us, we become good men and women, and the good fruit comes.
You can only be what is already on the inside. The answer to the question of whether or not you should follow your heart is you already are. Whatever is on the inside is what plots your course. You may get ideas, and you might turn over new leaves every now and then, but the bottom line is you’re only changing paths that will lead you to the same destination because the things your heart treasures haven’t changed.
- Personal fulfillment
- Fill in the blank…
The human mind is a fountain of good ideas to achieve the heart’s desires. Many times turning over a new leaf is just taking a different path to get the same desires fulfilled in a more socially acceptable way. We treasure these things more than we treasure God, and that’s why no matter how noble or personally fulfilling, our treasure is always wicked.
If you actually want to change, you need something you can’t give yourself. You need a new heart. Only Jesus Christ can give you that. And until you receive the salvation he offers, your heart’s treasure will always be wicked. Only when we are born again into God’s kingdom by trusting Christ for salvation will we receive a new heart with good treasure. And when we recognize that Christ, is our life (Colossians 3:4) then he becomes the most valuable, most precious of all our treasures. That’s when real change happens. That’s when following your heart produces good fruit because there’s good treasure within.
You’re always following your heart. The question is what’s in there, what’s it producing, and where is it leading you? If you don’t like what you find, look to Jesus because he’s the only one who can take out that old heart, and put in a new one full of good treasure.