Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Heart Wants What It Wants... But Is It Right?

We probably all know the saying, "The heart wants what it wants!" There is a wealth of truth in that saying, but to what part of its wisdom do we pay attention? So often that saying has been used to justify all sorts of thoughts and actions in life, including justifying decisions that harm other people while pleasurably indulging our own fleshly desires. Usually that saying or the thought is invoked to push away external authority or personal responsibility, as we embrace our own lust. Too often the saying is used to neglect or block contemplation of the consequences of our actions, including our accountability to God for what we are about to do.

Lovers of this world, rejectors of God, the self-indulgent, and philosophical experimenters all too often earnestly counsel each other to "follow your heart". Sometimes they mean that one should follow one's instincts; sometimes one's feelings, lusts, or desires. RARELY do people say "follow your heart" with any intention of meaning that one should follow God and His leading, or to diligently search out and test one's sense about whether one has a true gift or calling to do something that God has ordained for one's life. I've heard many people say things like, "If it feels good, do it", or "If it feels so good, it can't be wrong", or "Just follow your heart, and everything will be OK", or "It'll all work out, if you follow your heart." But are those sayings really true? What is the real meaning of what such a counselor is telling the listener? Such counsel begs the question of what the listener believes to be supreme in life, one's heart or God Almighty?

At the most base level, to follow one's heart derives from a desire to pursue and ease an excited or uneasy feeling in our bodies, to balance an urge, to quell an appetite, to release a corresponding tension that we get when we are challenged by something that demands or elicits an emotional response. But is an emotional response or rationale what we should use as our gauge or motivation when we make significant or life changing decisions?

The Bible indicates that following our hearts can often leads us into trouble, or it can bring us into harmony with God. The latter is true ONLY when we love the things that God loves. That is NOT what most people want to hear, not even what most Christians want to hear. Sadly, we all too often ignore the counsel of God and His Word, that we might specifically follow the inclinations and dictates of our heart felt urges, which turn out to be nothing more than our flesh exerting itself over what God's Spirit is trying to teach us, or from which He is trying to safe-guard us. I offer the following Scriptures for your edification and growth. I find them a continual challenge to my urge to indulge myself instead of paying attention to God's will for my life and peace.

While the Bible uses the word "heart" 895 times in various contexts, including pleasurable references and things talking about the blessings of God and this world, yet is strongly cautions us to be certain of our focus and motivations, that we not allow our hearts and feelings to govern us in place of God and His Word. Here are a few quick references to pique your interest and whet your appetite for God's Word on this topic.

Genesis 6:5
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Psalm 14:1 
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."
 Jeremiah 17:9
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

2 Timothy 2:22 
"Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

James 1:2-22
2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
5   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.
6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
9   Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
10  But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
11  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.    
13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16  Do not err, my beloved brethren.
17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
18  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.    
19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 

Above all things God wants our repentance, faith, and obedience, all of which demonstrate our love toward Him. Here is His "Simple Plan of Salvation".

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