Man looks on the things that can be seen from the outside – the natural appearances. But God looks on the heart. God’s x-ray vision not only sees the arterial sclerosis which many people carry, undetected, but He also sees the attitudes and the intentions of our heart.
When God looks at your heart He not only sees the condition it is in, but He knows where it is going. God can anticipate your entire eternal outcome, by seeing your heart. Wow!
You ask for chapter and verse? Let me step you through this piece by piece.
Firstly we know that God looks at the heart.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7
OK, got that? But when God looks on the heart He not only sees its current condition, such as being filled with anger or joy, but He sees its ‘nature’. That’s how God could declare David to be a man after God’s own heart.
“But now your kingdom will not continue: the LORD has sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be captain over his people, because you have not kept that which the LORD commanded you.” 1Samuel 13:14
At the time Samuel gave this prophetic declaration to King Saul, David was only a boy. Yet God described him as a ‘man’ after God’s own heart. God knew the character of David’s heart. God knew that David was not perfect, for no man is perfect except Jesus Christ, yet God knew that David’s heart would choose to honour God.
In the ensuing years we find David moved to build a house for God. We find David eager to restore the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. We see David unafraid to make a fool of himself in worshipping God. We see David deeply repentant over his sin. We see David willing to fall into the hands of Almighty God and longing for the courts of God. David’s ‘heart’ was set on the pursuit of God.
Despite his adultery, murder, failure as a parent and other sins and weaknesses, David’s heart was known by God to be a true heart of worship and commitment to God. So God could predict the enduring quality of David’s life, from his boyhood.
Men are often duped by the appearances of others. We are impressed with or we ignore people, based on external indicators. But even someone who is excited about God and their own salvation may not have the ‘heart’ for the long haul and the challenges that lie ahead. Jesus taught that some would receive the word of God with joy, but would fall away when they faced trials.
“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” Mark 4:16,17
The devil can’t see our heart. The devil, like us humans, needs external evidence to know what is going on. We see that in the exchange over God’s favoured servant, Job. God knew Job’s heart and so God confidently boasted in Job. The devil, however, could not see Job’s heart and assumed that Job’s love for God was motivated for selfish reasons.
“And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?” Job 1:8,9
God allowed the devil to bring Job under great affliction, to prove Job’s heart. God had no doubt about the outcome, because He could already see the quality of Job’s heart.
By the way, that’s how God is able to ensure that we are not tempted with anything that is beyond us. God knows where each of us is up to and what we can endure, at our heart level.
Note too that the devil wanted to sift Peter like wheat, to see what rubbish there was inside him which the devil could exploit (Luke 22:31). The devil can’t see what’s in there, so he has to go on a fishing expedition to see what he can dredge up.
Since the ‘heart’ is the ‘heart of the matter’ we are warned to diligently guard our heart.
“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
David prayed to God to give him a right heart, and we do well to pray that prayer as well.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10