The counsel to follow your heart is a common refrain from many. Or maybe you’ve heard someone say, “the heart wants what the heart wants?” Telling someone to “follow your heart” is usually meant to be aspirational and reassuring. The intent may be to give the individual confidence to do whatever it is they have a mind to do.

Pop singer Madonna released a song in 1998 called, “Sky Fits Heaven” that reached number forty-one on the Billboard Dance Club Chart. It includes this line in the chorus, “I think I’ll follow my heart, it’s a very good place to start.” And in a more recent post listing the ten reasons why you should follow your heart, a “tele-health counselor” lists as number one, When you follow your heart, you cease having regrets Sounds awesome, but should our moral compass be to follow our heart?

How Scripture answers "Should you follow your heart?"

The heart should be the very last thing we trust1,4,5,8,10. It is where evil thoughts and deeds are spawned6,7. What’s worse, our heart/mind can deceive us1,4 into thinking we are doing right. This isn’t to say that man is inherently sinful or “totally depraved”12. Rather, we must focus on God’s will and not our own2,5,9,10,11,12 and should be asking God for help3 and wisdom7 to understand His word9 better. Anything less is to “judge by appearances” which Jesus explicitly commands not to do11.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

The heart [of man] to be deceitful and sick, difficult to understand.

In a broader condemnation of the sins of Judah, God (through Jeremiah) begins a comparison of a “cursed” man (vss 5-6) and a “blessed” man (vss 7-8). Verse 5 really begins the thought specifically regarding the heart, namely describing the cursed man as one that trusts in man. Conversely, the blessed man is one that trusts the Lord. Finally, in verse 10 God says that He will search/test the heart/mind and judge us.
Scripture-block application to this question

Trusting in one’s heart is dangerous as we can fool/deceive ourselves. We must trust in God.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven: We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven.

Plea to evaluate one’s actions and return to the Lord by turning your attention (heart) up toward Him.  We have disobeyed and rebelled, and He has not forgiven.

Jeremiah’s lament of God’s punishment of the people of Judah/Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. He is pleading to God on behalf of the people.

Scripture-block application to this question

It demonstrates the principle declared by God in the previous passage1; we must test “our ways” against what God has said.

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

Jeremiah acknowledges that man is not capable of directing his own way and asks God for help.

Jeremiah’s prayer to God for himself and his people.

Scripture-block application to this question

A demonstration by one faithful prophet of God of what turning toward God looks like.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
A man will find a way that seems right to him, but it only leads to death.

A collection of wise sayings primarily collected from Solomon, the wisest to ever live.

Scripture-block application to this question

We can’t trust our own judgment in what “seems right”.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Trust God with all your heart [mind], and do not trust your own understanding.

A collection of wise sayings primarily collected from Solomon, the wisest to live.

Scripture-block application to this question

We should put all our trust in God and look to Him for our knowledge and understanding.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

The heart is the source of all sinful (“evil”) thoughts and deeds.

Jesus is teaching the people how sin manifests in their lives. He has prefaced this by saying that what goes in the mouth isn’t what defiles a person (e.g. unclean foods) but what comes out (generated from/by the heart).

Scripture-block application to this question

The heart is where evil thoughts and deeds are conjured up, being carried out by other members of the body (e.g. mouth, hands, feet, etc.).

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Whoever trusts his own mind [heart] is a fool, but he that walks in wisdom will be saved.

A collection of wise sayings primarily collected from Solomon, the wisest to live.  A recurring theme is the contrast of the “wise man” vs the “foolish man”.

Scripture-block application to this question

The Hebrew word for “mind” is the same as “heart”. Anyone that trusts his own mind/heart is a fool. Essentially the same thought in the previous proverb4.

And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
When God smelled the pleasing aroma, He said in His heart that He would never again curse the ground and destroy all the living because of man since he was inclined to do evil from his youth.  Instead, while the earth existed, its normal cycles of crops, seasons, and days would not cease.
During the first 2,000 years of the world’s existence (Genesis 1-11), God has just destroyed all of mankind due to their wickedness and saved Noah and his family through the flood.
Scripture-block application to this question

God tells Noah that man’s heart is inclined toward evil from youth onward.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Arguing for those things that are better under the new covenant, the writer is pointing to the better priesthood of which Christ is the High Priest (vss 4:14-5:10). However, the writer admits these things will be “hard to explain” (vs 11) because they have not been diligent in understanding the “word of righteousness” (vs 13).
Scripture-block application to this question

We must train our hearts/minds to distinguish between good and evil.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

The “solid food” here is God’s word.

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

A psalm of Asaph that recounts some of Israels wanderings and, in particular, their disobedience.

Scripture-block application to this question

Israel followed their own “stubborn hearts” but following their own wisdom and not following God’s. With imagery much like Hebrews9, they did not fill their mouths with God’s word, and so God “gave them over” (destroyed them).

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
Don’t judge by appearances but with “right” or “righteous” judgment.
Jesus is teaching in the temple and makes the point that judgment should not only be made by the people but they should be judging based on a “righteous” point-of-view or standard (i.e. Godly).
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus commands that we don’t judge based on appearances, but what is “right” or “righteous” – the same point in Hebrews9.

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Have fun and enjoy your youth, doing what seems good to you while remembering that God will bring all your actions into judgment.

A book of wisdom from “the Preacher” (many believe to be Solomon). The very wise and wealthy “Preacher”, having done all things “under the sun”, shares his treatise on life and worldly pursuits – it is all vanity.

Scripture-block application to this question

The young should exercise their God-given exuberance for life and fun — following their heart in a sense — but always remembering that God will judge them for their actions.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Within the context of Ecclesiastes, it’s clear the author’s entire point is that all aspects of life are vanity when outside of the care and control of God. For the young, he counsels them to make the most out of their youth while “Remember[ing] also your Creator in the days of your youth” (12:1).

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