The Ultimate Screening Test

November 4, 2016

During my student days when I worked as a gas station attendant (and yes, we pumped people’s gas back then), I had to sign an agreement that I would be willing to take a lie detector test. The company wanted to protect itself from employee theft, and the lie detector was one way of screening employees when problems arose. When I applied to graduate school, I had to take a psychological profile test — it was one way the school had for screening applicants and alerting the school to potential problems. Currently, most employers will have new hires take a drug screening test.

These illustrations confirm that a variety of screening tests exist which provide all kinds of information about us, whether we want them to or not. But an ultimate screening test also exists. We frequently fail to think about it, and the result is that we live our lives carelessly. What is this ultimate screening test? God searches the hearts and minds of all of us.

We may make excuses to ourselves and to others that deep down we know are flimsy. Billy Sunday said, “An excuse is the skin of reason stuffed with a lie.” We need to remind ourselves that all of these excuses are known by God who searches minds and hearts. Listen to what the Bible says:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21:2, ESV)

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. (Jeremiah 17:10, ESV)

And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15 ESV)

Will I feel guilty when I face such truths? Possibly, but God provides a way of handling guilt. He has paid the price for our sin. He invites us to repent and confess. If there is any place where we should be honest about ourselves it is in our prayers to God, because God knows the truth about us.

We may hide from others, but we can’t hide from God. Knowing that I am being tested helps me to avoid carelessness. Honesty with God is the best policy. God knows our hearts. May we live so as to pass the ultimate screening test.


The Friend Who Really Knows Me

February 5, 2016

God searches the hearts and minds of everyone. That thought can bring a certain fear to our lives, especially if we have been living carelessly with excuses we know will not stand the test. But, the same thought — God searches the hearts and minds of everyone — can also bring comfort.

We sometimes hide who we really are from others. We put our best foot forward in public as the saying goes. This best self may be like buildings on a movie set — an impressive façade that hides what is really there. But there is a yearning that competes with our attempts to mask ourselves. The desire is for a friend who really knows me — a friend who knows, understands, and helps. Some of the passages that depict God’s intimate knowledge of us, indicate that God can be that sort of friend.

… whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, 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)… (1 Kings 8:38–39, ESV)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalms 139:23–24, ESV)

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27, ESV)

I realize that there is a tension. Abraham is called “friend of God” (James 2:23), and God is called “the Fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42). Yet, God’s intimate knowledge of my heart and mind does not necessarily lead to terror. In the Christian life, where forgiveness is available, and growth in Christian maturity is ongoing, God’s knowledge of me can be a comfort. God is the friend who really knows me.