It’s graduation season and millions of graduates are getting all sorts of advice, some useful, and some not so much. The useful advice tends to be practical: eat your veggies, spend less than you earn, sort your laundry. (My college’s team color was an intense, bright red. By the end of the first month, most of the guys in my dorm had new t-shirts—and pink underwear.)
The more esoteric advice leaves a lot to the imagination: “Strive.” “Live your dreams.” “Be all that you can be.” Strive to do… what? The value of much advice like this depends largely on what a graduate’s goals are. Do they want to make the world a better place? Or is their goal to amass as much stuff (money, fame, power) as possible?
One of the oft repeated phrases heard during interminable graduation speeches is: “Follow your heart.” I think this is terrible advice. Why? Jeremiah 17:9 puts it clearly: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” And Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
Do we really what want to base our direction in life on a heart that’s deceitful and evil?
Our hearts can easily lead us astray. A deceitful heart may tell us to marry the wrong person, pursue the wrong career, act selfishly, or hurt others. The Bible is full of examples.
Genesis 34 tells the story of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob.
She went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
His heart ended up getting Shechem killed.
Samson was ruled by a heart that lusted after women. First he married a pagan Philistine (Judges 14), then he lost his God-given supernatural strength—and his life—when he believed Delilah’s lies (Judges 16).
Solomon married foreign women who turned his heart after their pagan gods (1 Kings 11:4). King David followed his heart to adultery and murder. Jonah allowed his hatred of his enemies to keep him from obeying God’s commands and ended up spending three days in the guts of a large, stinky fish.
We’d all be in huge trouble, except that God is in the business of doing heart transplants. (See Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 18:31, Ezekiel 36:26, and Galatians 4:6, for starters.) Maybe the best advice—for a graduating senior, or anyone—is to tell them, “Follow God’s heart”!