“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2
We take an action, any action, because it seems like the right thing to do from our perspective. Our actions and our words are driven by what is in our heart. The problem is that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“…but the Lord weighs the heart.” Only the Lord knows what is in our heart. Only he knows what is driving our decisions. And, only he knows what must be changed within our heart so that it is pure and our actions and our words become just.
Therefore, you must “apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 23:12) Notice that our ways seem right to our eyes, but our ears are to be used to attain knowledge.
“Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today, even you.” – Proverbs 22:17-19
Again, we read that it is the ear that must be inclined, or tuned, to hear the words of the wise. The ear that hears is linked with the heart that is applied to knowledge, to wisdom, to understanding. Why is this the case? “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
Our eyes deceive. We think we know what is right based on what we see. But, it is through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, that we receive faith, that we trust God to lead us and order every step we take. Once we have heard the Lord, allow him to direct us, then we can see clearly. Read the scriptures carefully and you will see this pattern: hearing, then repentance, then sight.
True repentance is an act of humility. It is admission that I don’t know what is right. It’s an admission that my heart is wicked and that I don’t know what to do. And, as a result of that admission, I’m going to turn to God and let him direct everything that I do. I’m going to let him lead instead of trying to do what I think is right.
This is why our ears have to be constantly listening for Jesus (through reading the Bible or listening to preaching with the Holy Spirit teaching us). Then God’s words will be on our heart. And, what is in the heart will be on our lips to direct us, lead us, and keep us from lies that lead in the wrong direction. Because, there are many times we don’t have a Bible handy or have time to look up a verse to see what God says in a particular situation. No, we need the Living Word, Jesus Christ, within our hearts so that moment by moment he can direct us.
What is the result of the humility displayed in repentance? “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
However, this isn’t riches and honor according to the world. Ephesians 2:4-7 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” God is giving us the riches of Christ, which is every spiritual blessing according to Ephesians 1. And, he has given us a place of honor, to be seated with Christ who is on the throne in heaven. That is life.