Best of Daily Reflections: God Knows Your Heart, Part 1
Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.”
The Pharisees weren’t too happy with Jesus’ claim that we cannot serve two masters, both God and money. According to Luke, they “dearly loved their money” (16:14). Sound just a bit familiar?
Jesus replied to their scoffing, not by talking more about money, at least not immediately. Rather, he turned to the issue of the hearts of the Pharisees: “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts” (16:15). The first part of this sentence could be translated more literally, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before people.” The Pharisees wanted to look good. They wanted to be well-regarded by those around them. They wanted a good reputation. Sound just a bit familiar?
I’ll freely confess that there is plenty of Pharisee in me. Not only am I fond of money, but I also want people to think highly of me. I can easily live for the praise of those around me. This isn’t altogether wrong, since social influence can help me to live rightly. But I can end up playing a moral game in which the esteem of others counts more than anything else, even the esteem of God.
Thus, I am caught up short by Jesus’ reminder here: “God knows your hearts.” In the biblical world, your heart was not just the home of emotions. It was the center of your inner reality, the place of thinking as well as feeling, and especially the place of choosing. No matter how good we look on the outside, God knows what’s on the inside.
Jesus is not saying that our actions don’t matter, that we shouldn’t do what is right. But he is warning us against living superficially and hypocritically, acting one way while being another.
In tomorrow’s reflection, I want to consider further the implication of the fact that God knows our hearts. In the meanwhile, I’d encourage you to reflect upon this truth and how it touches your life.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How does the fact that God knows your heart impress you? Does it make you ashamed? afraid? encouraged? challenged? How much do you live to impress others with your righteousness?
PRAYER: Gracious God, yes, you do know my heart. You know everything about me, all of my secrets, all of my fears, all of my seemingly hidden sins. You know when I seek to please others rather than you. You know when I pretend as if you’re not looking. I am an open book before you. Nothing is hidden.
May this knowledge help me to be a person of integrity. May I seek to honor you with all that I am, with my thoughts and feelings, with my daydreams and my aspirations. By your grace, may my heart be pleasing to you. Amen.