“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” – Proverbs 27:19 NLT
What's the state of your heart today? Not the organ that pumps blood through your body, but your inner man. The word "heart" is the Hebrew word leb, and it refers to man's mind, will, heart, and understanding. It has to do with that inner part of us that drives us, motivates us and determines who we are and what we do. The heart is the seat of our emotions, the center of our decision-making, and the determiner of our actions. That's why this proverb compares looking into our heart to see who we are really like to looking at our reflection in a calm body of water. It is when we take a long, honest look at out heart – and closely examine our will, choices, loves, decisions, and attitudes, that we will gain a true picture of who we really are. But too often we ignore the condition of the heart, in ourselves and in others. Instead, we judge one another based on externals. We judge based on what we see on the surface. But that can be deceptive and dangerous. We have the capacity to manufacture outward behavior that is designed to influence what others think of us. We can come across as self-confident, happy, successful, with all our proverbial ducks in a row. We can fool others into thinking that we have our act together. But on the inside, we can be a fractured mess. We can be a muddled mix of discontentment, anger, resentment, depression, fear, and anxiety. Our hearts can be far from God, but we have learned to sleep-walk our way through life, going through the motions and faking a form of piety that is purely surface-based, lacking any kind of depth or basis in reality. Others look at us and see us as having it together. But in time, the truth will come out. Our hearts will get exposed.
As believers, we must learn to look at the heart. That is where God focuses His attention. Back when God had sent the prophet Samuel to look for a candidate to replace Saul as king of Israel, He gave Samuel a piece of important advice: “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" (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT). The Lord looks at the heart. He isn't impressed with outward appearances. He is not swayed by our swagger or blown away by our pious play-acting. He looks right into our hearts and sees what we're really like. And we need to learn to do the same thing. But to do so is going to require a level of honesty and self-evaluation that is scary. We will have to use the Word of God to expose us for what we truly are. We are going to have to ask God to reveal all the flaws and faults that reside inside us. Rather than make excuses for our behavior, we will have to take the time to see what really motivated us to do what we did or say what we said. Instead of passing blame, we will have to consider the state of our own heart. Because the heart is the key to all that we do. The circumstances of life do not cause our behavior, they simply reveal what's inside. A man with anger and resentment in his heart does not need much to trigger and release what's inside. He will explode at the least little provocation. A fearful person does not require much for his fear to find its way to the surface. His fear will leak out at the least little sign of danger. The lustful person will find himself struggling with lust in the most unlikely of scenarios, because his problem is internal, not external.
Taking a long, hard look at the heart is a scary proposition. It requires a degree of honesty and transparency that is unheard of and uncommon in our day. We don't want to see what's in there. We don't want to have to expose the hidden areas inside us that are the true motivator behind our attitudes and actions. We would much rather pass blame, make excuses, and continue our charade of false piety. But God looks at the heart. He examines and exposes its true condition. And He wants to change us from the inside out. So He goes to the source. He deals with the root problem. And so should we.
Father, give me the gumption to take a long, hard look at my heart. Help me see it as You do. I can't see it without Your help. Open my eyes and help me see its true condition. Then give me the strength to change, through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.