God Looks on the Heart

When Samuel was sent by God to choose a king to reign over Israel, his first impulse was to select one of imposing and pleasing physical stature. God, however, quickly rebuked him, saying, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Now God's way has never changed. He still continues to judge righteous judgment by looking "on the heart" instead of regarding the "outward appearance." Many other statements of Scripture emphasize this; as for instance, in Jeremiah we read, "I the Lord search the heart;" while the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us that "the word of God ... is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;" and then he goes on to say, "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

The Bible uses the term "heart" to symbolize the receptacle for all one's inmost feelings, be they good, bad, or indifferent. It talks of all sorts of hearts,—of willing, glad, pure, upright, perfect hearts; and also of wicked, slow, perverse, proud, froward hearts. Jesus said definitely that out of the heart proceed the things which defile. Then it is evident that hearts must needs be purified and made holy if men are to have true hearts,—if they are to express those qualities which make for goodness and greatness, for health and helpfulness. And how can this be done except as God looks in upon the heart and lays bare its inmost recesses? It is therefore absolutely necessary that all human hearts be searched. Each must have the secrets of his heart revealed to him in order that he may relinquish all that is false and win the true.

Men have always known they must experience a change of heart if they would be truly Christian; the "stony heart" must give place to "an heart of flesh,"—hard resistance to Truth must yield to the tenderness of divine Love,—if the Christ is to come in and fill consciousness with good. For generations Christians have believed God's promise that He would create within them "a clean heart;" but just how this was to be accomplished they have not understood. They have not always wanted to give up the evils which defile; nor have they welcomed the thought that God looks "on the heart." It has not always seemed to them an unadulterated comfort that nothing is hid from "the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Mortals would rather have kept some things well out of sight, could it only have been possible!

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Among the Churches
February 2, 1924

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