As a Christian, is it a Mistake to Trust My Instincts?
- Jennifer Heeren Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2015 3 Mar
I stood in front of the brushed chrome counter staring up at the brightly lit menu board not being able to decide what I wanted for my lunch break. My friend laughed and said, “You work here. You know the menu by heart. Why does it take you so long to decide what you want for lunch?
This tongue-in-cheek scenario from my high school years that happened more than once illustrates that I have an inability to make decisions sometimes.
I have never been very good at believing in myself and trusting my instincts. Decisions are sometimes difficult for me because I’m always worried I’ll do the wrong thing. I sometimes go along with what other people think is a good thing even when something inside of me whispers that it’s not right for me.
When I became a Christian I began to hear that the human heart is deceitful and cannot be trusted. This caused me to distrust my instincts even more. Maybe I was right all along? Jeremiah 17:9 does say, the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
And, Romans 7:18-19 says, I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Romans 7 goes on to say in verses 21-23, I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. If that power is so strong than how in the world can I trust my instincts?
It really sounds like I should distrust every single thing that is within my heart.
Before I go to that extreme, let me go back to Jeremiah 17 and look at the whole chapter not just verse 9 above. It clearly says that I shouldn’t put my trust in human strength or thinking and I shouldn’t turn away from the Lord, but if I trust in the Lord and make Him my hope and confidence, my life will bear good fruit. So, if I’m looking toward the Lord, reading the Bible, and listening for His guidance, shouldn’t I be able to trust some of the thoughts and ideas that come into my heart and mind?
Ultimately, everything I do or say comes from within me. If it all can’t be trusted than I might as well curl up under the covers and never come out again to do or say anything. I certainly shouldn’t make any decisions about my life. Actually, this is what my fear tells me I should do. If I listen to that fear it would lead me to just give up. This would be 100% wrong. God NEVER says to do that anywhere in His instruction book.
If I put too much stock in Jeremiah 17:9 without reading the rest of God’s word, I will be paralyzed whenever I need to make a decision. It will lead me to never take a risk even when God wants me to walk by faith, not sight. It could even lead me to staying where I am even when God’s Spirit is prompting me to go onward.
So, can I trust my instincts?
Yes, my heart can be deceitful but when I trusted in Christ, I became a new creation with new life coursing through me. So if I am a new creation who has God’s Spirit WITHIN me, I should be able to trust some of my instincts. I should be able to live my life out in the Spirit as Romans 8 tells me.
The power of God’s Spirit has freed me from the power of sin. Doesn’t that make my heart’s notions a little less deceitful? Now…some of my heart’s notions are good and helpful to other people as well as my own life. I no longer have to follow my old sinful nature. I can follow the Spirit instead. Some of things that I think about now actually please God. And if I read the Bible regularly and let God’s word filter the thoughts of my heart, THEN I can trust my instincts.
I do have to be careful but I CAN trust some of the thoughts and ideas that are within my heart. I can trust some of my instincts and have peace at the same time.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write things that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.