The heart of the matter

heart of the night

I didn’t bother counting, but I searched on song titles with the word “heart” in them and perhaps not surprisingly there are thousands. Heck, I’d be willing to bet if you looked at movie and book titles it would expand mind-blowingly. Why? Because the heart is understood to be the place where our most deeply-seeded feelings reside, and where the core of our life persists in both the physical and the spiritual sense.

While that might be the case, I suspect that the heart is more conundrum than comprehension. We may understand that the heart is primary and core, we don’t understand what is primary and core about it. I mean for ourselves … I doubt we fully understand the content of our own hearts. I know for a fact we don’t know the content of others’ hearts. As one of my favorite songs by the Paul Colman Trio says, “They say ‘just follow your heart,’ yeah but what if it lies?” And here the heart’s so crucial and yet we understand it so little. Perhaps not at all. We’re unable to get to the heart of the matter.

My reading the past week or so reminded me of the futility as humans of trying to propose we get it. Folks, we don’t. But …

As I read from Joshua 16-24, Judges 1-21, Ruth 1-41 Samuel 1-24, Psalms 7, 11, 27, 31, 34, 52 and 59, a key point was throughout that was particular pointed out in 1 Samuel 16:4-7.

So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?” “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too. When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

In this portion of scripture, we have Samuel visiting the family of Jesse to find the one of Jesse’s sons that the Lord had selected and anointed as the next king, in replacement of Saul. Naturally, as Samuel was visiting he expected that the next king would actually look like a king. You know, tall, handsome, strong, whatever it is that a king should look like … perhaps what Hollywood would say (don’t get me started on Hollywood haha). Anyhow, the Lord provides Samuel – and us – an apt reminder of the heart of the matter.

So let me ask a bizarre question to make my chief point. What if we didn’t have eyes? Or perhaps if our eyes were different, so that when we “looked” at someone the only thing we saw was what was in their hearts. That is, we could see the heart of the matter.

What would we see?

Pain? Hurt? Woundedness? Sorrow? Deception? Darkness?

What if when we “looked” in the mirror we saw the same things in ourselves?

What we would see is the heart of the matter … how the Lord sees. As God reminded Samuel, “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” So let’s assume we could actually see other people’s hearts (or maybe even our own … but for now lets focus on the hearts of others). How would it change how we treat people?   How would it change our relationships? How would it change our discussions? How would it change our faith? How would it change our churches? How would it change our world?

My point in this is that we judge what we can actually see and we assume, interpret, and infer the rest. Wrongly. God, of course, does so with pristine accuracy. So with our interactions with one another, if we saw what was in someone’s heart would their “attitude” or “motives” as we see them – wrongly – when seen rightly change how we behave? How we treat them? How we sympathize or perhaps empathize? Chance are, yes, it would change.

So why not seek to make that change happen now? Clearly we cannot see as God sees but we can ask Him to align our hearts and mind to what He sees. We can ask Him to change our hearts and our eyes, and to show us through the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives to start to see the heart of the matter, as He sees.

As we stand here on Good Friday, when Jesus – knowing with 100% accuracy the horrible condition of the heart of the matter in each of us – willingly laid down His life and His rightful prominent position at the right hand of the Father, I think it’s reasonable and right for us to appreciate the gift of salvation brought by Jesus’s death. Especially because He saw the heart of the matter in you and me and still went to the cross. That’s why today, Good Friday, is truly good.

Let’s prayerfully ask God to begin to reveal to us how He sees, and to allow us to begin to develop vision to see the heart of the matter. To see one another’s hearts more … something tells me that might just be the key to repairing all that is wrong in this world. Yeah, we’ll never actually see how God sees … but if we keep seeking, He’ll help us find. Vision. To see the heart of the matter.

Soli Deo gloria!

MR

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