But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)]

crab appleAfter God rejected Saul as king, He sent Samuel to the home of Jesse, telling him that one of Jesse’s sons had been selected as the next king. Samuel was sure he’d found the new king after taking one look at Eliab, Jesse’s eldest boy. Like Saul, Eliab must have been tall, muscular, and handsome, but mere good looks hadn’t served the people well with Saul. Telling Samuel not to judge by outward appearances, God said that He judges by what’s in the heart. In Samuel’s day, only God could see into the heart; that’s not so today!

I recently had an echocardiogram. During this test, high-frequency sound waves, combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler, provided images of my heart’s chambers, valves, and blood flow. The cardiologist then evaluated the size, structure, movement, and strength of my heart to detect any damage, defects or disease. Nevertheless, in spite of being able to actually observe the way my heart functions, she couldn’t see into my heart any better than did Samuel into either Saul’s or Eliab’s.

Although the cardiologist’s report gave the exact dimensions and thickness of each part of my heart, she really doesn’t know if I am big or small hearted, or if my heart is pure, true, honest, compassionate, meek, wise, joyful, willing or good. Although the cardiologist knows my blood flow velocity and cardiac output, she doesn’t know if my heart is hard, cold, haughty, deceitful, broken, bitter, rebellious, stubborn, wicked, heavy, or in need of cleansing. While her conclusion was that, in spite of a few abnormalities, my heart is fine, God is the only one who can truly evaluate it. Moreover, it is He, not a cardiologist, who determines whether or not anyone needs a whole new heart!

As used in Scripture, the heart is the origin of our behavior, expressions and words: our soul or essence. The center of our physical and spiritual life, it does more than pump blood. Holding our beliefs and faith, it is the source of our imagination, inclinations, affections, intentions, desires, ideas, passions, morals, concerns, purposes and will. No matter how skilled the sonographer, how sophisticated his equipment, or how knowledgeable the cardiologist, an echocardiogram can’t show any of that!

Having read my echo report, I know what the cardiologist saw when looking into my heart. The more important report, of course, is what God sees when he looks there. Is it just fine or is there some work that needs to be done?

Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. [Psalm 26:2 (NLT)]

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. [Psalm 51:10 (NLT)]

But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. [Jeremiah 17:10a (NLT)]

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