Who really knows a heart?

 The nature of man is to judge the hearts of others, (i.e.: their actions, their thoughts and their motives.)  The self-righteous judges the heart of everyone he views to be ungodly as lost and unworthy of blessing; while the worldly one judges the hearts of those trying to live righteously as prudish and hypocritical.  The conservative judges the heart of the liberal as morally bankrupt; while the liberal judges the heart of the conservative as uncaring and mean-spirited.  Labor judges the hearts of management as selfish and egotistical; all the while management judges the stewards of labor as slothful and shifty.  We each judge the representatives of the media and declare them to be biased against whatever cause we advocate.  And we all tend to judge the motives of our leaders, particularly those whom we didn’t vote for.

 The fact of the matter is, we can never fully know the heart of any other person; even those we have a very close relationship with, such as our spouse and our children.  Only two persons in a room ever really know an individual’s heart: the person him or herself, and the Spirit of God.

 Why then do we tend to judge other people so much? If we could change a heart it might be a worthwhile venture to judge them.  But none of us has that power.  Only the individual and God have a direct say in the matter of their heart.  Still we try all the time – to act like a god over others.

 Not long after Adam’s exile from the Garden, even to the present day, mankind has tried to control the hearts of people and redirect the thoughts and wills of those who were of a different mindset; but they’ve consistently failed.  Men and women of all persuasions have chosen to follow what their hearts dictated was right over any outside influence, even when faced with threats or the reality of persecution, torture, or martyrdom.  History books are replete with examples of people who stood firm with their heart’s leading against either Islamic Jihadists or the Church’s hierarchy, each of which persecuted and executed non-believers and “heretics.”  More recently many 20th century secular governments such as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Communist China and Cambodian tried and failed to force their people to conform.  And we continue to see such unsuccessful attempts in totalitarian and Islamic nations around the world today.

 In the 20th century instances, though faced with severe and deadly persecution, the Church went underground and prospered; while the governments themselves floundered.  And in the 21st century, facing demonically influenced threats to freedom and to life and limb, followers of Christ have grown, quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

 Nevertheless, sometimes we ignore the lessons of history.  Like these governmental regimes of past and present, sometimes Christians themselves revert to this failed strategy of using threats and fear, namely judgmental assessments of a person’s behavior and warnings of eternal wrath to try and change their hearts.  Even when such statements are true, fear is rarely an effective tool to change a heart, nor is it a deterrent to bad behavior.  A disapproving facial expression, a condescending quotation of scripture, or a hell-fire message is more likely to be a turn-off than a mind-changer.

 The Apostle Paul explained it best when he declared, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?”  And God knows that human heart even more than we know ourselves – each human heart – and He knows what will impact our heart.  That’s why the Gospels and the New Testament letters of the disciples focus significantly more on love than on judgment.  He wants a person’s heart – but He wants them to give it willingly.  The true follower of Christ loves Him because He first loved us and because He redeemed us from ourselves and our goofy lives.

 

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