Don’t you hate to think you know something, just be sure of it, and then turn to find yourself mistaken? Isn’t it frustrating to find out that you were dead wrong on what you assumed with conviction? Everybody hates this, at least I would assume we all do.
What is worse is when we think we know something about ourselves only to realize that we are not what we thought we were. Reality TV shows like American Idol have made a mint by laughing at people who think they can sing and who are utterly shocked and horrified when they are told that they cannot. The casino industry here in Vegas makes a fortune on people who think they are smart enough to beat the house, but they are not.
Even worse than all that, however, is the state of the person who believes that he or she has a solid understanding of his or her own heart. The truth is, we very often assume false things about ourselves. We assume that our intensions are good. WE assume that our motives are pure. We assume that our ways of doing things must please the Lord, because, after all, he must see things the way that we see them.
But consider a few words to us from the Lord.
1 Kings 8:39 – then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),
God is the only one who has a true grasp of what is in your heart. You do not know your own heart, only God knows the hearts of men.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Our heart is more deceitful than anything else we encounter. We are particularly blind to our own failing, our own shortcomings. We assume we know, and we just flat do not grasp the truth of our own motives and internal messiness.
It is possible, by the way, if you are given to self-pity, that you think you know your heart because you so often feel bad about who you are. But, even then, the one who pities himself or herself is quite often feeling sorrow based on false beliefs and unmet desires that have nothing to do with the Lord. The truth is, whether you are overconfident or self-pitying, you do not see your heart and motives as the Lord sees them. You lack the wisdom and holiness of God to assess yourself with the accuracy of the Lord who is perfect, who sees all, and who knows all.
What then do we do? We must come to the Lord in humility and ask him to help us to know the hearts we cannot know on our own. We must open the word of God and let it, like a mirror, show us who we are and how deeply we need the grace of the Lord. We must allow others in the local church to speak truth into our lives so that we begin to grasp the little chinks in our armor that we cannot see. We must have the help of the Lord, his word, and his people to work on shaping hearts that would trick us if we view them on our own.