Sunday, August 10, 2008

God looks on the heart

I'm sure you're familiar with the story of the little boy who was standing up and had been told numerous times to sit down. Finally he was persuaded to be seated and from his chair he said "I may be sitting on the outside but I'm still standing on the inside!"

Our "insides" being more important than our "outside" is a familiar Biblical theme; from Samuel passing over the physically impressive sons of Jessie to anoint David as the new king, to the sermon on the mount and how our heart's motivation discounts our outward actions if we're doing what we are just to be applauded, to admonitions in the epistles about having a heart that is pure before God.

God is looking at my heart no matter what outward actions everyone else is observing.
God knows how I really feel.

Today at church I was given pause and considered the “flip side” of this mind-set, because in this day my outward actions were not able to properly represent the attitude of my heart.

I have only lately come to appreciate the dimension that physical expression adds to my own sense of worship – be it in being on my knees, or on my face, or in using my hands in expressing praise, honor, thanks, or surrender.

There was a hymn, of all musical expressions, that really struck my heart this morning – its words, and not the influence of the music passages, that evoked such a response in me that this was truth and God was to be exalted because of His character and faithfulness.

The church I was in was not a “hand- raising” kind of church. And I am not unaware enough to cause my own manifestation of worship to become a distraction to someone else, thereby drawing their attention to me and away from the message.

I stood, hands at my side, in the third pew on the left but in my heart…in my heart I was not so stoically standing…!

And this is when I realized how good it is that God looks on our hearts because here it is that He can see how I really feel about him if I’m able to reveal it or not.

In the 14th century there was a monk, Brother Lawrence, who had one goal in his life and that was to practice the presence of God; to realize that God was always with him and to worship him and communicate with him constantly. He had said in essence that he was as much involved in the praise and adoration of God in the scrubbing of the pots as when he was in prayers in the sanctuary. (He also conveyed how much he hated being in the kitchen…)

God looks at the heart so even if all the things we must do in our outward appearance have nothing to do with God we have this liberty to be fully engaged with Him even if our hands are covered in soap suds or axle grease.

Perhaps this is not the time for you to be engaged in prayer, or Bible reading or meditation – the demands of life must be met and so often our time is not our own to command.
But since God sees our hearts, He can see if the attitude is like that of the psalmist who’d said, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming!’”.

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