Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A man with the right heart

This morning in my reading I came to 1 Samuel 16. Chapter 15 tells the story of Saul's disobedience to God's command and his rejection as king. In this amazing chapter are these words spoken by Samuel,

1Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king."

To obey is better than sacrifice.....each time I read these words I have to stop and think about it for a moment. How badly we want to define the rules of faith...what we will and won't do for God, but what he wants is simple obedience. It's not hard, but we want to do it our way and God will have none of it. It's his way or not at all. He's looking for a people that will desire most of all to simply follow, worship and obey him. And so, as chapter 16 opens God goes on the search for just such a man...and he finds one. He finds a little shepherd boy whose name has become part of world history. He finds David. But in the search Samuel is still looking for the tall, the strong, the leader "looking" man. And here's what God says to Samuel in response...they are sobering words, chilling if you really think about them....he says,

1Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

God does not see as we see...he's looking at hearts, we look at strength, good looks, personality, leadership skills. "But the Lord looks at the heart." What a sobering statement that is....he's looking for hearts that want to follow him, that want to serve him, that want to worship him. Why do we spend so much time focused on the wrong things? Why do we invest so much of our lives on our looks, our weight, our clothes? I know these are important, but in the process we have for the most part ignored the most important thing. We have ignored the heart. God's in the heart business, but we find ourselves in the world of externals...looks, heights, hair, weight, smile and a hundred other things that are, at best, temporary. Suddenly, as I read this passage I find that I am, like Samuel, focusing my attention on the wrong things. But you ask, how can we see hearts? We can't. That's not really the point. If you know that God does see our hearts why aren't we investing more time into our "heart development and training?" Why aren't we cultivating a heart that seeks after God instead of wealth, looks, popularity, success? It's interessting to realize that this chapter 16 is between 15 and 17. I know...real obvious, huh? But here's what interesting to me- chapter 17 is the chapter that speaks of David and Goliath. When everyone else is focused on the externals and are fearful to the point of inaction because of them, David, the man with a different heart, is ready to take on the giant! The man after God's own heart is ready for the task ahead because he has cultivated a relationship with a God who is big enough to handle the giants.

I wish I was more heart focused than I am. I know it would change how I view my own giants. I know they would seem much smaller in comparison to a big God. Since God is looking at hearts I think I will make my focus the same thing....where's my heart? What are my affections? Who do I want to please? Do I have a heart that seeks after God most of all? I have a lot of work to do on me, but I'm doing it...bit by bit....looking at the things that God looks at, caring about what he cares about, working on the important things.

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