Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
In an interview conducted by Walter Isaacson, Woody Allen famously quipped “the heart wants what the heart wants.“ It’s a famous saying that is often repeated, but very rarely do people understand what Allen was referring to. Allen was discussing his romance and love affair with his adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. In Allen’s case, what the heart wanted was something that many would argue was horribly inappropriate and completely wrong. This is one situation that highlights the potential danger of following your heart.
Should we follow our heart? That’s a complex question. The answer is: it depends. It depends on your heart. The prophets were clear that the promise of the New Covenant was a new heart. A heart that wanted to follow God; having the law written on it and the Spirit dwelling in it (Ezekiel 36:26-27). The early followers of Jesus never imagined that this new heart would mean we wouldn’t struggle with sin. In fact, it was this new heart that would help us engage the battle. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Gal. 5:17) The new heart and the power of the Spirit allow us to fight the battle of life and faith victoriously.
Over the past two days we’ve walked through a way to approach discerning the internal rhythms of our heart through testing the heart and training the heart. When our heart has been made new through the Spirit and we have tested and trained it, we can trust our heart. The reality is we are heart-driven affectionate-guided people – whether we want to be or not. We always make decisions in line with what we want. Jesus didn’t come to eliminate desires, he came to transform them. As a follower of Jesus, trust the Spirit is at work in you. Surrender your wants and desires to his leading and his work, and then follow your heart. When it comes to making decisions, our heart and surrendered affections may be one of our greatest guiding lights.
Spend some time today thinking about what you really want. Peel the layers back and dig as deep as you can. What do you find? Is it in line with the kingdom of God?
By Ryan Paulson