The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
-- Jeremiah 17:9
One of the most common mantras used to inspire the modern man or woman is "follow your heart." Based on the prophet Jeremiah's assessment, this is a bad strategy. Following one's heart has led multitudes to disobey God and destroy the lives of other people.
Most of the errors come in the vein of what is called "love." The Greeks had three words for love: "eros," sensual or sexual lust (think "erotic"); "phileos," brotherly, friendly love (think "Philadelphia," the city of brotherly love); and, "agape," sacrificial, unconditional love (think of God's love, and the love we should have toward Him and one another).
Too often we follow our hearts in pursuit of the first word for love, based upon the pursuit of an erotic (we prefer the term passionate) experience. We follow our hearts into fornication as young people, follow our hearts into adultery as married people, follow our hearts into myriads of sexual sins in order to give ourselves pleasure at the expense of other people's immediate or eventual pain.
We have now raised a couple of generations of people in a culture saturated with sexual deviance, high divorce rates, and the resultant broken homes and bent psyches. Now we wonder why society is breaking down, why shootings are an everyday experience, why prisons are so full, why churches are so empty. It is because, like village idiots, we keep following our hearts.
If we won't take Jeremiah's advice, how about listening to Jesus? Hear what He has said about love, hearts, and so forth. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind ... you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39). The word for "love" He used is "agape."
By all means, follow your "heart," include your whole self ("soul") in the equation, and make sure such following is informed by a "mind" trained by God's word, so that "you" and your "neighbor" (anyone and everyone else) are blessed, not hurt.
At least Christians should take Jeremiah's and Jesus' advice. Yet statistics indicate sexual sin, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and divorce rates are about the same in Christian circles as secular ones. This is a shame, because a sexual counterrevolution led by believers could restore some chastity and sanity to this crazy world in which we are living.
Perhaps Christianity is weakened today because too many people have asked Jesus into their heart without first filtering Him through the mind. Too many have embraced a shallow faith that lacks real repentance. Repentance is literally a change of mind that leads to a change of heart, a change of soul, a change of life, and a change of eternal destiny, when conjoined with genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance without faith may make you a legalist, but faith without repentance will make you a laughingstock.
So follow your minds, people, minds fixed on the word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Repent, change your mind, quit excusing and exalting your selfish and sexual sins, confess that God's will is the right way. Believe in Jesus, and have the "mind of Christ," as Paul called it in 1 Corinthians 2:16, which by the way, was written in response to an outbreak of sexual sin within the church. A mind fixed on honoring God and obeying Scripture will guard and guide the heart of a true Christian into loving relationships that please the Lord and bless other people.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]