Internal or External?

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Israel wanted a king. God told Samuel to anoint Saul to be king. 1 Samuel 9:2 tells us that he was tall and extremely handsome. He evidently had a heart of humility (1Sa 9:20,21; 10:21-23). But after two years as king, 1 Samuel 13 paints a different picture of Saul. Now Saul is taking credit for things that happened in his kingdom that he did not do. An observance of the fruit would indicate that he now had a proud heart. 1 Samuel 15:26-28 tells us that God then rejected Saul from being king and gave the kingdom to a neighbor that was better than he.
So Israel was again in need of a king. It was not that they did not have a king, but they needed a king of character. King Saul was chasing his own selfish pursuits instead of giving his best in service to the kingdom. So God sent Samuel the prophet to a family in the town of Bethlehem. There God made Jesse’s sons to pass by Samuel so He could tell Samuel which of the sons was to be the new king of Israel. Samuel was impressed by the handsomeness of the oldest son and was convinced that he was seeing the future king of Israel. However God told him, “It is not this one; no, not that one. No, it is not that one either.” Finally after Jesse had sent all his sons by Samuel and none were chosen, Samuel asked, “Is this all your children?” And Jesse’s response was, “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep” (1Sa 16:11b). God had chosen the youngest one to be the king of Israel! David was a country boy! He had no political experience. He did not even know what it was to serve in the army of King Saul like his brothers did. Why did God choose him? Scripture again describes the future king. “Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (1Sa 16:12b). However, God told Samuel, “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1Sa 16:7b). David had a heart after God. That, not his appearance, was what qualified him.
Today, people are very aware that appearance makes an impression. Businessmen or preachers will rent outfits to wear so they can keep up with the changing styles. Church members will appear properly on Sunday, but when they are not around their church brothers, they may appear very differently. We would like to say the problem of an errant heart being covered over by a good appearance is out there somewhere, but we are not exempt from it. Consider the following diverse examples to illustrate this point.
This is a time of year when we see a lot of immodesty in public places. We say it is gross immodesty, and it is. However, does it say anything about our convictions for modesty when we need to have a specific brand name of shirt, the latest fabrics, or a new neck or sleeve design such that other people notice? Our beliefs on modesty may be even more evident when we go swimming. It is NOT permissible to expose our bodies just because we are in a pond. Many of our swimming facilities are in a neighbor’s backyard or a similar readily visible place. So even for one individual or a group of one sex, principles of modesty apply. What will the swimmers whose hearts believe in modesty do? They will apply principles of modesty to swimming by the use of modest swim wear.
We say we believe as Jesus did that one soul is worth more than the whole world (Matt 16:26). When Jesus lost one sheep out of the hundred, He went and searched for it until he found it (Matt 18:12-14). Today there are many sheep that are lost. When one manifests itself within the congregation, do we seek it out? I am not just talking to church leaders. This is the calling of all the saved. How about those that hop to another church? How about the many around us that have never been in the fold? Will not a heart that really believes those souls are worth more than the whole world manifest the fruit of reaching out to the lost and hurting?
How about our belief in a pilgrim and stranger concept? We do right to say that we are not citizens of this earth. We admire our forefathers who gave up a lot, everything they had, to come to America for religious freedom. Today we are benefiting from that. So are we practicing the same values that our forefathers practiced, or are we getting mired in political debates and in amassing fortunes here? Do we lose ourselves in the country’s patriotic celebration of independence, while the Mission funds suffer, and people all over the world are in need. What will the heart of the pilgrim make him do? Will he not willingly be a “Good Samaritan”, willing to help at his own expense? Are we focused on an eternal vision and not a temporal one?
We say if persecution came, we would willingly die for Christ. What are the indications of a heart that is ready to die for Christ? Is it in how we respond to people? Even those who reject our efforts in pointing them to Jesus? Or how does a notice of terminal illness affect us? What will the committed heart do in suffering? Will he not accept it as God allowing the destruction of the flesh to further His cause in other ways?
Brothers, Sisters, Fathers, Mothers, and Church leaders: we cannot look on the heart as God does, but we can see the fruit of the heart. However, we can be so blindsided to our own heart condition while easily seeing needs in others (Matt 7:3-5). Are we being diligent in the mirror of God’s Word so the intents of our hearts are revealed (Heb 4:12)? Are we willing to accept and deal with what it shows (Jas 1:22-24)? Having hearts after God, gives us a platform for helping to direct others God has placed in our paths. When we see bad fruit manifested, we need to recognize what it is telling us about the heart. Let us not fall to the temptation of fixing the outward appearance without addressing the needs of the heart. May we, together, be faithful laborers in God’s kingdom.