Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Know My Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” - Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV) 

Who really knows their own heart? The bible speaks of its unparallelled deceitfulness, desperate sickness, and our inability to understand it. Yet, the Bible is also clear that God searches and tests and knows our hearts. David prayed in Psalm 139 ...

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! - Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV) 

He knew that he had spiritual blind spots in his life - as we all do - and that he needed God to show him where they were if he was going to be honest and pure before the Lord. He knew that God could allow him to see what He sees in his heart. Most of us aren't willing to do to that. We don't know our hearts because we don't want to know. We avoid any pangs of guilt or remorse at all costs. We fear what might be revealed if we are uncovered.

“Hardly anything else reveals so well the fear and uncertainty among men as the length to which they will go to hide their true selves from each other and even from their own eyes.”  - A.W. Tozer
Jesus spoke to the same core issue with the self-righteous Pharisees. Content to look good to others, and satisfied by their reputations, they ignored the internal realities of their lives. They - like many of us - were not at all what they seemed to be. When reputation is more important to us than character, we are already hypocrites. Jesus said:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." - Matthew 23:25-28 (ESV) 

Jesus taught them - and us - that the only way to purity before God is to begin on the inside. Until we deal with who we are really - the person we are when no one is loioking (but God), we have not dealt with the real issues of our lives. But when we are honest with ourselves and with God, real cleansing and restoration is possible. After David's egregious sins of adultery (Bathsheeba) and murder (Uriah), in brokenness he confessed to the Lord his sins and sought God's renewal:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. - Psalms 51:10 (ESV) 
You and I need the same willingness to undergo the inspection of God if we are to clean-up our own lives. If we are tio genuinely know God as He desires to be known then we must know ourselves as He knows us.

“Self-knowledge is so critically important to us in our pursuit of God and His righteousness that we lie under heavy obligation to do immediately whatever is necessary to remove the disguise and permit our real selves to be known.” - A.W. Tozer

To that end, I borrow the following questions adapted from A.W. Tozer’s That Incredible Christian, Chapter 31: The Importance of Self-Judgment

Use the following penetrating questions as a tool of self-discovery --- not so that you may "find yourself", but so that you may see your way to a better relationship with our God who is holy!


“While our self-discovery is not likely to be complete and our self-judgment is almost certain to be biased and imperfect, there is yet every good reason for us to work along with the Holy Spirit in His benign effort to locate us spiritually in order that we may make such amendments as the circumstances demand. For this reason I offer some rules for self-discovery: and if the results are not all we could desire they may be at least better than none at all. We may be known by the following:”

1. What we want most

We have but to get quiet, collect our thoughts, wait for the mild excitement within us to subside and then listen closely for the faint cry of desire. Ask your heart, What would you rather have than anything else in the world? When you have heard it you will know the kind of person you are.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. - Psalms 38:9 (ESV) 

2. What we think about most

The necessities of life compel us to think about many things, but the true test is what we think about voluntarily. 

... the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath. - Psalms 94:11 (ESV)
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? - Matthew 9:4 (ESV) 

3. How we use our money

Again we must ignore those matters about which we are not altogether free. We must pay taxes and provide the necessities of life… but whatever money is left to do with as we please—that will tell us a great deal indeed.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:21 (ESV) 

4. What we do with our leisure time

A large share of our time is already spoken for by the exigencies of civilized living, but we do have some free time. What I do with mine reveals the kind of person I am.

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.
- John 9:4 (ESV) 

5. The company we enjoy

There is a law of moral attraction that draws every man to the society most like himself. Where we go when we are free to go where we will is a near-infallible index of character.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. - Proverbs 13:20 (ESV) 

6. Whom and what we admire

We can learn the true state of our minds by examining our unexpressed admirations. Israel often admired, even envied, the pagan nations around them, and so forgot the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the law and the promises and the fathers.

Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways ...  - Proverbs 3:31 (ESV) 

7. What we laugh at

No one with a due regard for the wisdom of God would argue that there is anything wrong with laughter, since humor is a legitimate component of our complex nature. But the test we are running here is not whether we laugh or not, but what we laugh at.

Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will. - Proverbs 14:9 (NASB) 

Let this test be the basis for a serious and beneficial personal spiritual inventory that will help you get back on track (or stay on track) spiritually.

- PT

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