2004-04-06 - Heart Exam
Psalm 44:21, "Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart."
The following appeared recently as a personal ad, "Thirty-five-year-old doctor who wants to finally meet a woman with true inner beauty. Outward appearance not a factor. Please send X-rays." This may seem humorous, and it is, but like our comedic doctor, we have all heard the phrase, "God looks at the heart." In Scripture this is seen most clearly in the fellowship between David and God. The prophet Samuel delivered this message to Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14, "But now your kingdom shall not endure, 'The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart...'" That man was David, and he would eventually take the throne from Saul.
So what do we mean when we say that God looks at the heart? Simply put, we are saying that God looks on the inside more than He does the externals. He is concerned about our motives in doing good deeds, as much or more than the deed itself. One way in which I think we all often fail is that we are prone to do our good works less out of a love to Christ and what He has done for us, than we are to get noticed. Getting noticed can be a very intoxicating motive. God is able to look into our hearts and know our motives. We cannot judge motives of others, and we best not try. Only God can know the heart.
The fact that our motives are not always correct when we obey God is no excuse for not being obedient. We know we are to love our neighbor, but what if I really hate my neighbor and his loud music, unkempt lawn, and unfriendly attitude? If my real inner self would like to run him over as he comes out to get his mail, this is no excuse for not following the command to love him. As followers of Christ, the problem now rests with us. If we can't honestly say we want to treat our neighbor as Christ has treated us, then we need to examine our own hearts and seek the Lord to heal our sinfulness. When we think about how merciful Christ has been to us in taking our sin, and offering satisfaction to God the Father for it, how can we not in turn share that grace with those around us, even those who rub us the wrong way?
In many respects, it is not what we do that makes our efforts excellent, but rather why we did it. If we are living for eternity, then our outward actions are just a part of obeying God. Our reasons for obeying God also factor into our actions. If we take a look at Acts 5:1-10, we have a perfect example of this. Ananias and Sapphira sold some property and presented the proceeds of the sale to the church. However, they lied about the price of the property and held back some of the money for themselves, while saying they were giving it all to the church. Their motive was to be noticed by others, it seems, and not to glorify God. They were, rather, seeking to glorify themselves. The punishment was simple. It cost them their lives.
God does look at the heart, and so should we. I can't look at your heart, and neither can you look into mine, but we each ought to seek to examine our own hearts before the Lord.
"Actions speak louder than words, but, with God, motives speak louder than either." Arthur Neil
Soli Deo Gloria,