Common pop “wisdom” found in romantic comedies and song lyrics is, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
Often it’s employed to excuse impulsive behavior. While this could be as mundane as indulging in too much chocolate, it’s often related to questionable relationship choices.
The implication being that our desires erupt within us unbidden, uncontrollable, and must be answered. In other words, we have no choice but to act on these desires. Not following these random passions is considered unthinkable because, you know, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
What’s truly unthinkable is believing our desires are not based on our choices. Otherwise, why would scripture warn us in Proverbs 4:23 to “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT)?
In fact, Jesus cautioned that “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19, ESV).
How do all these things get into our hearts? We put them there.
Desires grow based on what our heart and mind is fed. If we treasure greed, lust, sex, darkness, and avarice in our hearts, from these treasures our desires will grow.
Another bit of pop wisdom is to just follow or listen to your heart. But Scripture counters with the caution, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 18:9, ESV).
What are we to do? Like Paul we want to cry out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, ESV)!
It comes down to what we treasure in our hearts. Or, as Paul examples, “I delight in the law of God, in my inner being...” (Romans 7:22, ESV).
Going back to Jeremiah and adding context, the solution becomes clear: “’But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”(Jeremiah 17:7-8, ESV).
To ensure our hearts want the right things, we need to place our trust solidly in the Lord. We need to feed our hearts on the deep truths of God’s word. It is through treasuring and immersing ourselves in the words God has spoken -- the Bible -- that our hearts can become healthy.
When computer programs go awry it’s often due to bad code. The programmer’s mantra is, “garbage in, garbage out,” meaning that if someone botched the code to begin with, then the program will deliver untrustworthy results.
The same is true with how we program our hearts and minds. If we put garbage in, we will get faulty results.
Instead, if we treasure in our hearts love, peace, generosity, selflessness, compassion, grace, and the like, the results will be more of the same.
What are you putting into you?
Do you believe love just happens or do you believe it’s a choice? Do you think it’s a good idea to just “follow your heart”? Why or why not? How do you guard your heart? Please feel free to share your insights in the comments!