Follow your heart? That’s the advice everyone gives these days. Figure out your passions, your desires and go for it. But is this really wise? Do we really even know our own hearts? In reading Jeremiah, it’s obvious what God thinks of the inclinations of the heart.
“But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away.” Jeremiah 5:23
“But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:24
Following your heart is not wise advice. The people of Judah to whom Jeremiah is prophesying don’t understand the judgment that is about to come upon them. They think they are safe because of their false prophets who prophesy a false peace. Jeremiah seems to be the only one who speaks truth.
In Jeremiah 16 the people are completely oblivious to the true nature of their own hearts:
“When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?'” Jeremiah 16:10
How could they not know? Reading the history of Judah’s kings makes it obvious to us what they were doing. It makes me wonder what lurks in the secret corners of my own heart. Only God can search out those shady nooks and cracks.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.'” Jeremiah 17:9-10
Don’t trust your heart. Instead, do what Jeremiah does. He gives his heart to the Lord who alone knows all things.
“But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you.” Jeremiah 12:3