It’s advice we hear all the time… and maybe even give. The question on the table today is, should I follow my heart when I get a great idea or face a big decision?
Every sermon I’ve ever heard regarding this advice has centered on one verse: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)
The wicked-heart factor is why we shouldn’t follow our heart. But there’s another Biblical view to consider. I’ll call it the God’s-providence factor.
Look in the Old Testament at 1 Chron. 17:1-4. King David sat in his gorgeous house thinking outloud in the presence of Nathan the prophet, “I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remaineth under curtains.” This was the hatching of his idea to build a house for God… a temple. What an amazing, noble idea. Nathan thought so. “Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee.” In essence, Nathan told David to follow his heart on that. David’s temple-building notion was truly brilliant and spiritual. No need to even pray about that one.
But wait. Next 2 verses. “And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in.”
Why not? The rest of chapter 17 explains how at the moment, God was happy with the current tent dwelling. But there would be a temple, and David’s son would build it, “and I will establish his throne forever.” (vs 12)
Oh. David and Nathan forgot that God has a will and a plan, and we have a need to follow that will and plan. We don’t call the shots. Not even noble shots. God has a master plan for the tapestry of our lives for His beautiful glory, and all we see are the threads that surround us right now. Let’s not presume to know what God wants and rush ahead with our brilliant ideas—or advise others to do so.
So here’s a prayer we can pray when we get a great idea or stand on the edge of a choice. It comes from David’s mouth. Let’s pray Scripture back to God: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” (Psa. 19:13a) And here’s another, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)