Following Your Heart when It Comes to Faith
I saw a post on Facebook today that said, "Follow your heart, but take your brain with you." I thought about how our feelings can lead us astray and how our heart plays into our relationship with God.
Long ago I saw an illustration of a train consisting of three cars: the engine, a middle car and the caboose. They were labeled "facts, faith and feelings." In one example facts pulled the train with feelings bringing up the rear, and in the second illustration, feelings led and the facts were the caboose. I bring this up so as we look at the biblical meaning of heart, we can better see how our mind plays an important role with the heart.
Biblical Meaning of Heart
The word heart is used over 1000 times in the Bible. In society, we are often told to follow our heart, but before we talk about following your heart in your relationship with God, it is important to understand what it is referring to. It's not the physical heart that thumps in our chest, but refers to our inner man. Our spirit, mind, conscience and will…our soul. Here is a cross-section of verses that offer insight into the heart of man:
- Genesis 6:5 "…every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
- Genesis 20:6 "…I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this…"
- 1 Kings 14:8 "…My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My sight."
- 1 Chronicles 17:2 "Then Nathan said to David, Do all this is in your heart, for God is with you."
- 2 Chronicles 32:26 "…Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart…"
- Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statures and ordinances in Israel."
- Job 15:12 "Why does your heart carry you away? And why do your eyes flash…"
- Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."
- Psalm 26:2 "Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart."
- Matthew 15:19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts…"
- Acts 15:8 "And God, who knows the heart…"
- Romans 2:5 "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart…"
- Romans 10:10 "…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness…"
The heart of man represents the inner man as God knows him. He knows every thought, motivation, and intention. What overflows from our hearts is seen in our actions. In a believer's life, this is known as fruit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.
Faith, Heart, and Mind
God changes lives as grace through faith in him changes our hearts. It isn't based on how we feel, but on God's word working in our life. Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God with our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Faith flows from the heart, but it involves our mind and physical strength, too.
Faith and Your Brain
If we base what we do solely on how we feel, it is easy to be deceived. Look at Eve's example. She thought the forbidden fruit looked good, and as Satan continued to tempt her, her feelings led her into sin. She believed a lie. This didn't involve just her feelings but her brain. She thought she could be like God.
We express faith in our actions. If we believe that when we sit on a chair it will hold our weight, we express faith when we sit in the chair. However, if we see the chair is old and flimsy, the facts should change our actions. Faith in God isn't a blind faith, but should be based on the facts found in his word. His word is truth.
Finding the Balance
Our heart is the core of who we are. Good intentions can change the outward appearance of who we are, but it is the saving grace of God at work in us that does a supernatural transformation of who we are from the inside out. Feelings are part of that, but we need to check what we feel against what God's word says. Those are the facts upon which our faith should be based. Those facts are the engine that drives our faith.
- Forsaking the Assembly
Hebrews 10 tells us we are not to neglect gathering together, but what does it say about why we meet and when we meet? If we don't do that when we gather, are we forsaking gathering together?
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