Whether we want to admit it or not, our heart can't be trusted. "Follow your heart" may be the common mantra of our day, but it's a sure fired way to end up shipwrecked on the rocky shoals of life. We need a steadfast, immovable point of reference to guide our life, our decisions. We need a point of reference, a plumb line, that's not moved by wind or wave of culture or doctrine, or by my current mood or life circumstance.
Maybe it's not a good time for me to be reading through 1st and 2nd Chronicles and 1st and 2nd Kings as I'm journaling my way through the Bible this year. It's all too much like reading the headlines. Israel's leadership just could not consistently stick to doing things God's way, and as a result, wicked king after wicked king led the people down a slippery slope to destruction. On occasion a righteous king would come into power, leading the people back into God's ways. Blessing and peace would be restored to the land. Then, yet another wicked king would come along, dismantling all progress that the nation had experienced. It's all too much right now, reading the news, reading the Word, and seeing that we still don't seem to get it.
Today I read 1 Kings 12. The kingdom of Israel had become divided. Judah was now its own kingdom. Jeroboam, king of Israel, decided that if the people of his kingdom traveled over to Jerusalem in Judah to worship as the Lord God had prescribed, that he was at risk of losing his control. And so he decided to repeat history, and whipped up a couple of golden calves for the Israelites to worship. He set up two places of worship, one in Bethel and one in Dan, and appointed his own priesthood, not Levites, ignoring yet another of God's mandates. Then he went up to Bethel to worship on a day which "he had devised in his own heart", (1 Kings 12:33 ESV). He made his own gods, chose his own priests, and set his own agenda, all because he followed his own wicked heart.
If I followed my own heart, on the difficult days I'd quit the ministry and maybe even run away from home to some wonderful place by the sea. If I followed my own heart, I'd always do what pampered my flesh. I'd eat what I want and never exercise. If I followed my own heart, I'd do whatever I wanted, not caring about how my decisions affected others. If I followed my own heart I'd shop and spend and spend and shop, forgetting budgets and common sense. My heart wants what makes Elizabeth most comfortable and what takes the least amount of self-sacrifice.
The truth is, if Jesus had followed His heart the night of his betrayal, had listened to the voice of His own mind and emotions, He would never have submitted His will to the will of the Father, saying, "not My will but yours be done". If every man followed his own deceitful heart, the world would be devoid of heroes who lay down their lives for others, of martyrs who give their lives for the cause of Christ, of mothers who sacrifice their own comfort and ease to put their child before themselves, of fathers who work thankless jobs to care for their families. Somewhere, in the heart of people like this is a rock solid immovable value that keeps them going, there's a guiding light, there's a plumb line.
Me, I know my heart is fickle, so I've chosen to follow God's heart and God's Word. It is my "ever fixed mark". While I can't vouch for Shakespeare's character or belief system, I think he wrote truth when he penned these words.
"...Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark..."
Those words are definitely counter-cultural today, because love has become a fancy to follow wherever and with whomever your heart desires. Oh, but the heart of God, the love of God is a rock solid foundation that never alters, never moves, is never shaken. His Word is the ever reliable guiding star in a culture that changes the definition of right and wrong based on a feeling, instead of on truth. If I could, I would beg of you, implore you, to not follow your heart, but to follow God's heart, to follow His Word. Follow His ever-fixed mark.
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