“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 KJV)
God is a master maker, and the thing that he makes is the man or the woman. He is a heartsmith, and men are big on what they make. But God is is big on why they make it. He works deep in the heart of man and actually his raw material, what he wants to get to, what he wants to dig through to and not just the things on the surface, but the motives and the intent of our heart. His top priority is the motive behind the front facing life that we present to the world.
And Scripture eloquently highlights the vast Gulf between the celebrity culture that we are so steeped in and pour our attention upon and the way of the spirit. 1 Samuel 16:7. Most of you will be familiar with this. The Lord said to Samuel, look not on his countenance or the height of his stature, because I’ve refused him for the Lord doesn’t see as man sees, the Lord looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart. They looked at the outwardly.
They were looking at the height of his stature. We could say, looking at the people. She knows, the bank balance, they boast, the clothes they wear, the car, they drive, the house they own. But how about some of the deeper, unseen things, like the time they spend in prayer, the service they offer to their neighbour, the cleanness of their thoughts and the intentions of their heart, the loving way they live, the peace they distribute, the death that they’ve died to self and the resurrection lives that they now display.
I’m going to read from the amplified it says the word of God speaks and is alive and full of power, making it active, operative, energising and effective. It is sharper than any two edge sword penetrating to the dividing line and the breath of life, the soul and the immortal spirit, the joints and the narrow, the deepest parts of our nature, exposing and sifting and analysing and judging the very thoughts and purposes. The intents of the heart. God is right here and he’s penetrating. I we are told, clearly sees the secret thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Jeremiah really points something out that we would be well worth keeping in mind. He says the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it? It’s as people out there in the marketplace. Indeed, whoever we are really out there selling things, it would do us a great service to take time to consider the motives of our heart at every opportunity that we possibly can.
And maybe you’re listening to this and you’re just going to run off now thinking, Well, I’m not selling anything, but the truth is we’re all selling something. Each of us has a window that we sell to the world, a persona who’s plastered on our public walls and no way am I suggesting that we can get caught in presenting ourselves one way to the world and being another behind the scenes? I’m not for a moment insinuating that our public and private lives sometimes stand in stark contrast to one another, with a less than perfect life behind the door and a carefully cultivated one in front of it.
Not at all. Of course not.
Well, maybe I am. Maybe I’m highlighting the nature of the world that we live in today, which is very, very image conscious. But really there’s something that goes far deeper than that. That’s a conversation that many of us have already had, and many of us have kind of thought through. But there’s something deeper going on.
This whitewashed world that we immerse our attention in is really just the way it is. And we know that the world loves the world and that vanity is really the normal mode of operation there. What else are we going to expect?
And how can a man really not be burned when he stands in the middle of the flames? That’s the question I’d want to ask, actually, being immersed in this kind of culture, how can we not be affected by it? And how can we not be blinded to the ways in which we have been deceived to partake of it and to even amplify it by the way that we live? Really, the case in point is that we need to be very, very careful what we consume, or we might begin to think that this world that’s plastered on our walls is actually the real world dig down to the heart.
And really, this is where I think certainly I want to discover more of myself, these unplumbed divisions that show up only when deep caused to deep it’s easy to see things that are just plainly inside.
But to understand the motives and the intent of our own heart is something quite different. The ability of our heart to convince us that we are right and pure and just and without guile or guy’s, purely driven in all of our motives is really quite remarkable. But then think of Peter insisting he would stand with Jesus, whatever may come. He really believed it or the rejection in John in his early discipleship days, insisting on calling down fire on people who weren’t responsive to the message of the gospel.
I mean, you would never have expected these things from these people.
How about Thomas when faced with the reality of the Messiah’s tomb? Here he is, days after the death of Christ, and he just cannot accept that the disaster that has ensued before his eyes could actually come to a happy ever after. We called Thomas doubting Thomas all the time, but he actually lived a very believing discipleship before that day, we have this idea that he was just kind of this fumbling mess of doubt and unbelief. But it’s not true.
But when faced with extreme circumstance, that is what surfaced. Judah is tempted by the money purse. Testing has a tendency to reveal motives that lurk below the surface and only show themselves when the heat is switched on. I want to just tell a story here. It’s one that I read or heard quite recently, and it just really made me think, because God will allow certain frustrations to boil to the surface.
He’ll put flame to our motives and see what remains now. The care and the concern that the Father has for us all doesn’t always manifest itself in ways that agree with our comforts. Now, Malachi said that God in Malachi three, verse three, it says that God sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. And as I said, I read recently a story that’s told, I’m not entirely sure what the source of this story is, but it’s just so powerful in the picture that it presents to us.
And it tells the story of a student.
He visited a silversmith to watch him at work and sitting alongside the craftsman, he observed him hold a piece of silver in the centre of the fire, where the flames are the hottest to burn away the impurities in the metal. The silversmith remained intently focused, never turning his attention away. And then the student asked why the silver Smith had to sit carefully, watching over the process at all times. The Smith answered that he had to keep his eye on the silver every second, because if the silver were left for a moment too long in the testing fires, it would be destroyed.
You must leave it just long enough for it to serve its purpose, he said, and not a second longer.
The testings that we go through, the trying of our heart and spirit are allowed for a purpose. And he said, we must leave it long enough just to serve that purpose not a second longer. And this is really the key here that touched my heart. The student asked, how do you know when the purpose is fulfilled and the silver is ready? And the silver Smith smiled and replied, oh, that’s easy when I see my image in it.
Well, thanks. Thanks for listening. Hopefully, it’s been an encouragement to you today. If you want to connect any further, you can do so through my website. Davidleemartin.com
have a great day.