The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart…
--1 Samuel 16:7
In his drama Les Miserables, French author Victor Hugo tells the story of Jean Valjean, a poor man who served nineteen years in prison at hard labor for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread. Valjean is finally released from prison and makes his way to the home of a kind bishop. Hardened by his experience, the menacing-looking Valjean is surprised when the bishop serves him a meal, using the bishop’s best silver. Then the kindly churchman gives Valjean a bed for the night.
However, the ex-convict is overcome by temptation and desperation. He steals the bishop’s silver plates during the night and flees, only to be caught by the police, who bring him back to the bishop. Valjean is in despair, knowing he will be returned to prison.
But the bishop shocks the police and Valjean when he sees them. “‘Ah, there you are!’ said he, ‘I am glad to see you. But! I gave you the candlesticks also, which are silver like the rest, and would bring two hundred francs. Why did you not take them along with your plates?’”
A stunned Valjean watches as the bishop puts the silver candlesticks in his bag. The police have no choice but to release him, and he goes away a different man. The bishop’s act of kindness brings about a change in his heart, and in gratitude and repentance Valjean leads a life of kindness and service to others. His inner transformation is an example of what I would call a matter of the heart. Matters of the heart are those things that go to the very essence of our being, because the Christian life is to be lived from the inside out.
We may be impressed by the way a person looks or dresses, or by some other external factor, but God is interested in the heart. He established this principle when He rejected Eliab, the oldest son of Jesse, as the future king of Israel after Saul’s spiritual failure.
The prophet Samuel went to Jesse’s house to anoint Israel’s next king. When Eliab walked in, Samuel was struck by his appearance. But God told Samuel that He does not see as man sees, for man looks at the external and but He looks at the heart. That’s why God chose David, “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), to be king.
If God is looking this intently at our hearts, then we need to take a very close look, too. Are you living according to His Word? Or are you living according to what the world says? Are you focusing on the external or the internal? Focus on that which is in the heart, and ask God to continue to transform you each and every day.
A HEART THAT IS FULLY TRUSTING IN THE LORD
IS A HEART THAT WILL NOT BE EASILY LED ASTRAY.
Taken from Lessons from the Heart
Copyright 2001 by Jack Graham