Greg's Blog

Why Following Your Heart is a Bad Idea

by Greg Laurie on Jul 27, 2019

The Bee Gees sang, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” and the Eagles sang about “Heartache Tonight.” Neil Young sang about searching for a “Heart of Gold.” And Toni Braxton recorded the song “Unbreak My Heart.”

We use the word heart constantly in our culture. If we’re sad, we say we’re heartbroken. If someone is very emotional and quick to express their feelings, we say they wear their heart on their sleeve. And if someone is cold and insensitive, we call them heartless.

When we use the word heart, we’re typically referring to our emotional center. You’ve probably heard people say (and maybe you’ve said it yourself), “Well, my mind tells me to do one thing, but my heart tells me another.”

But a lot of crazy things have been done “from the heart.” That is why you shouldn’t let your heart tell you what to do. Your heart can mislead you.

The Bible speaks of the heart as well: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT).

And Jesus said, “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22 NLT).

Yes, it’s true that the heart wants what it wants. Yet a lot of times the heart wants the wrong things. So we should not focus on our hearts as much as we ought to focus our hearts on God.

Jesus has told us, in fact, what to do with our hearts. Instead of talking about it being broken or unbroken or wearing it on our sleeve, he tells us to use our hearts – as well as our minds and souls – for the purpose they were created.

He said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38 NLT).

He said this in response to the Pharisees, who were trying to trap him with a question. The Pharisees were a group of religious leaders in Jesus’ day who endlessly debated about what commandments were greater or lesser.

They had basically documented 613 commandments in the law. They identified 248 of those commandments as positive and 365 as negative. Because they knew that no one could keep all of the commandments, they identified some commandments as heavy and others as light.

We have a modern equivalent in the idea of sin being mortal or venial. The idea is that venial sin is bad, but it isn’t as bad as a mortal sin. The problem with this thinking is it isn’t biblical.

God doesn’t make those distinctions. There’s no such thing as a “mortal” or “venial” sin. In fact, the Bible says, “The person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws” (James 2:10 NLT).

So Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, “Guys, let’s get to the heart of the matter. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”

Jesus was quoting what is known as the Shema, something they would have been very familiar with. They had it written down and placed in a small box called a phylactery, which they strapped to their foreheads.

So Jesus was saying, “Instead of worrying about all these little commandments and which one is worse than the other, get back to this: love God with all of your being, and all of this stuff will be sorted out.”

It makes complete sense, doesn’t it? Because if we love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, we naturally will want to do what he wants us to do. If we really love God as we ought to, then we will want to do the things that please him.

If we can master this basic truth of loving God, then everything else will find its proper place.

But what does it mean when Jesus said we should love the Lord with all our hearts, souls and minds? And Mark’s gospel adds the word strength to the list (see Mark 12:30). It means that we are to love God with every part of our being.

So let’s break this down for a moment and look at each term. For the Hebrew mind, the heart spoke of the center, or the core, of one’s being. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT). So the heart speaks of your core.

For the Hebrews, the soul referred to their emotions. It probably more closely correlates to our English use of the word heart. It is the word Jesus used when he cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38 NLT).

Then we are to love God with our minds. This is the idea of moving ahead with energy and strength.

So put it all together, genuine love for the Lord is intelligent. It is feeling. It is willing. And it is serving.

Some people love God with all of their minds, but there is no passion in their lives. They’re sticklers for correct doctrine, yet many of them are miserable, mean, arrogant and condemning.

There are others who love God with all of their hearts, but they haven’t disciplined themselves to study the Bible and are easily led astray.

Then there are people who are very active and busy for God, yet their love for him seems to be lacking.

The reality is that we need all of these things in play to love God as we ought to. And if we can love the Lord like this, then our lives will find the proper balance.


Originally published at WND:

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