Question:

I want to ask about these verses:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

I have read verses like these (I know there are others) from topics on Christian Dating and I want to know if the verses can relate to it. From what I understand here, it means that the heart cannot be trusted because it is willful and is driven by its own agenda. It does not consider things rationally and intelligently, it just loves to love. So the saying of "follow your heart" is wrong?

A lot of my friends tell me that they follow what their heart says though I don't get to ask them if they made the right choice so far. So the heart acts emotionally if that is the case. The mind will have to be the one to set things straight, and after considering all other factors, then you allow your heart to engage. Seems like the mind will have to go first then the heart. So you cannot just love or act according to your heart but according to your mind?

I hope you understand my question. It is just hard for me to explain. Thank you very much.


Answer:

You appear to understand the situation very well.

I'm sure you've gone to movies where you became frighten, laugh, cried, etc. because of what was portrayed on the screen. Yet, what is being shown is not real. It is just images and sounds but they generate emotion within you that you might not have even felt before you entered the theater. Emotions can be manipulated by external ideas.

That is why Solomon warned us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). When you know something is a weak point in your armor, you protect it. Since your inclination for behavior begins with your emotions, you want to make sure that those emotions are accurate and appropriate. Knowing it can be manipulated, we know it can be deceived (Jeremiah 17:9).

Some times our emotions might be right, but it can be wrong. But we build up tolerance. Well I followed my heart last time and it came out well, so I conclude I should do the same next time. Thus, a trap is laid by Satan. Because eventually the heart will be wrong, but the person doesn't stop to question it until it is too late.

The only time God tells us to give emotions a high consideration is when our conscience is warning us that something isn't quite right. "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:22-23). Notice that there is an implicit acknowledgement that our conscience might be wrong, but when it comes to moral danger, it is too important to overlook any warning signs.

There are going to be times you might not be able to logically put your finger on exactly what is wrong, but it might not feel right or safe. The wise thing to do is not get involved until you are certain. In this way, the emotions become a warning signal.

But you don't follow your emotions in all matters. Too many people sin because it "felt right at the time." But if you ask them about what God said or what the evidence showed, they knew it was the wrong course -- they simply allowed their emotions to override their minds. A good example of this is the naive young man discussed in Proverbs 7. He is seduced by a woman and before she was done Solomon said, "With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life" (Proverbs 7:21-23). His emotions caused him to do what he logically knew was wrong.

What is the solution? "Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths" (Proverbs 7:24-25). You start with what you know is the truth, regardless of the direction your emotions push you. That is where most people fail. They start with the emotions and only when things start to crumble do they pause to wonder if they did the right thing.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil" (Proverbs 3:5-7).