OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            This writer can remember a time when he thought he was right, but he was sorely mistaken.  The discussion centered upon the words “fatal wound.”  A friend said that a fatal wound was one that produced immediate death.  This author argued otherwise.  Webster says that fatal means “causing death.”  Thus, I was wrong.  My thinking that I was right did not make it so.  The sincerity of my heart did not change the definition of the word “fatal.”

            This same type of problem can develop within the hearts of men.  Man may believe that his heart and ways are acceptable, yet he can be wrong.  The Bible says that our hearts are very deceptive.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it” (Jer. 17:9).  Since our actions spring from our heart, they, too, can seem right but be wrong.

            There is only one who can truly judge the hearts of men.  This person is the God of heaven.  Solomon acknowledged this in Proverbs 21:2.  “Every way of man is right in his own eyes:  but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”  In the second part of Revelation 2:23, this thought is expressed again.  Jesus said:  “…and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts:  and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

            This aspect of God’s divine ability can work in man’s favor or to his detriment.  Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, had his heart weighed and was found wanting.  In Daniel two, the son of Nebuchadnezzar made a great feast.  He and his guests drank from the vessels that had been taken from the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.  To make matters worse, the king and his guests also “praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone” (Dan. 5:4).  “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace:  and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote” (Dan. 5:5).  The wise men of the Babylonian empire could not interpret the message.  Daniel, however, interpreted every word.  “And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  This is the interpretation of the thing:  MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it.  TEKEL; thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting.  PERES; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Dan. 5:25-28).  Note that second word, “TEKEL.”  God had weighed the king’s heart, and he was found wanting.

            Another group of people whose hearts were weighed by God were the religious leaders of the days of Jesus.  These men appeared to be very pious.  They made great displays of their religious practices.  The people held them in high esteem.  God looked beyond the show.  He dove into the inner crevices of their hearts.  Here is what He said about them:  “Ye hypocrites, well did Esais prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:7, 8).  Had they been asked about the condition of their hearts, they would have boasted of pure hearts.  This was not the true condition of their hearts, however.  God saw beyond the shell.  He entered into the inner realms and saw corruption and showmanship.  His appraisal offended them according to Matthew 15:12.  Jesus did not apologize.  He alone knew that he had accurately assessed their spiritual condition.

            A final illustration of a heart that was weighed and found to be evil is contained in Acts 8.  Philip had entered into the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them.  Many of the men and woman believed and were baptized.  “Then Simon himself believed also:  and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:13).  Prior to his conversion Simon had been a sorcerer in Samaria.  His powers caused the people to proclaim of him, saying, “This man is the great power of God” (Acts 8:9, 10).

            Several days after the conversion of the Samaritans, news of their obedience reached Jerusalem.  The apostles dispatched Peter and John to impart the Holy Spirit unto them by the laying on of hands.  When Simon saw this marvelous ability, he offered the apostles money for the gift.  Through inspiration, Peter was alerted to this man’s heart.  His words were pungent.  “…Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter:  for thy heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:20, 21).  Had some of us heard Peter’s forceful words, we might have charged him with being too critical of this young convert.  Peter’s assessment did not come from himself.  It was a divine assessment.  God had weighed Simon’s heart.  God did not find it to be acceptable in His sight.

            These types of examples should cause each of us grave concern.  It is so easy for us to convince ourselves that our hearts are right when they are not.  We may think our heart is right about worshiping God.  Is it when we complain when the services go over ten or fifteen minutes?  We could deceive ourselves about a sin that we are practicing.  Since it does not harm others and seems to bring us happiness, we may think that it is acceptable.  We could be deceived about our love for our brethren.  We tell them how much we love them to their face, but we speak evil of them behind their back.  Our hearts could be deceived about our service to God.  We do one or two things that sooth our conscious when we could do so much more for our Lord and His kingdom.  Deception of the heart could also be involved in our giving to God.  We say that we are giving as much as we can to God, but our giving has not increased even though our income has gone up steadily over the years. 

            This list could go on endlessly.  They key is honesty.  We must be completely honest when we compare our hearts with God’s word.  Motives and intent must be held to the highest standard.  It is possible to have a heart that God commends.  David did.  The apostle Paul spoke about David’s heart on his first missionary journey as he commented about the history of the Hebrew nation.  “And when he had removed him (Saul), he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22).

            There will come a day when every heart will be weighed in judgment (Romans 14:12).  Will you be able to say as David did:  “Examine me, O Lord, prove me; try my reins and my heart?” (Psalm 26:2).  Or, will you stand in judgment with a false confidence, your heart being far from God?  Remember, God truly knows our heart.  He will not make a mistake in His assessment of its condition.