There is this strange truth that we will generally look at our lives and think we are doing okay. Part of this, I think, is that we start looking sideways at our fellow men and think that we are doing great in relation to them. We see a person who lies regularly and think we do well to lie only occasionally. We see a person who is entangled in some sin which has no power over us and think we are doing positively awesome. If I look around like that, then my way will seem right in [my] own eyes. But that is not how God judges things and it is not how I should, either.
The LORD weighs the hearts. I was talking with a coworker recently (Read: some time in the last two weeks), discussing why I believe and he does not. The conversation took a turn that lead to me making an assertion much like what this proverb says. God looks at hearts. This theme recurs enough in The Bible that God must want me to drill it into my mind. And it has taken up residence there. We have a phrase in English: “His heart was in the right place.” What we mean is that, as far as we know, that individual’s motives were good. God actually knows whether or not that individual’s motives were good. And it is based on those motives that God judges. I have seen often in scripture the reminder that I am not to judge a man’s walk (or lack thereof) with God. God is the One Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. I am just guessing.
This tells me a couple things.
One, I may think that I am doing what is right or not wrong per se, but God is going to look at the reasons why I did what I did. I became entangled in sexual sin at one point by convincing myself (mostly) and allowing others (a little) to convince me that certain things were not wrong. I have since learned that they are, in fact, wrong. If I had been totally focused on doing what God told me and had been deceived, that would be one thing. But, if I am honest with myself, I wanted to convince myself and find others who would affirm that certain things were not wrong so I could do those things without “being wrong.” The way looked right in my eyes, but my heart was completely in the wrong place. And God judges the heart.
Two, there have been times I have done some colossally dumb things and been intent on doing what God commands me. My understanding was limited (it continues to expand) and I did the best I knew at the time. I was still wrong, but it is a less insidious wrong than the one mentioned above, because my “heart was in the right place.” I wanted to be obedient to God, but did not understand how to rightly do so. It is like when my daughter does something dangerous thinking that it will be a fun game between her and daddy. Her heart is to play and have fun and love and be loved by daddy. There is nothing wrong in there. But the way she is going about it is not good. I have to try to correct the how and leave the why intact. God does much the same with me. He corrects my How when my Why is just fine.
I need to check my heart. What I am doing and how I do it are important and should not be ignored, but why I do what I do is just as important, because the LORD weighs the hearts.