March 6: I Samuel 16:7

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

This verse has all it takes to both comfort and frighten us. God is not looking at you like people look at you. What a relief! God is looking at the heart. Aack!

In this passage, which is about the anointing of David as king,  God told Samuel to not look at the outward appearance, but instead, follow God’s lead and look deeper.

Our first instinct in this passage is to view it as a one time thing. Like you get ready to go be “seen” by man and God, and people see the outside and God sees the inside. The reality is that this is ongoing. We don’t have a week to get our hearts tidy before God does His rounds to check on us. We are not free to take as much time as we need to get it in order before He sees it. God sees us always, and God looks at the heart always. There is nothing that can escape His view. What God sees is the ongoing state of our hearts. He sees every bit of work, every bit of honoring Him, every bit of sacrifice. God sees the heart. He also sees every self indulgence, every fudging of the truth, every bout with envy, every spiritual weakness. God sees the heart.

Now the reason that I brought up this verse today is that I am in the midst of Spring cleaning. I am assuming many of us are. In my house though, Spring cleaning is more of a burning desire than an actual activity. With our houseful of busy little messers, we spend a lot of time trying to pick up. Tidy up. Sweeping pinecones, cootie-catchers, watercolored receipts, and marker lids out from under the table. Getting the dirty clothes off of the stairs, and the cups full of toothpaste out of the bathroom. We live cleaning the surface of our external lives, never getting to the deeper level. Then, on some fortuitous day you get it all picked up. And suddenly, you see it. Filthy baseboards. Walls that have had little hands dragging across them. Carpet that is going to need to just be replaced. Furniture that must go. Curtains that have had a nose wiped on them. Sticky handprints all over every glass surface, and probably on everything else too.

I had a burning trouble with the garage being a big mess, and the storage room being disorganized. Because you can’t clean out anything without somewhere to put the things you clean out. It is like one of those maddening puzzles where you try to slide one tile into the right spot, but in order to do it you have to undo everything and mess up the world. One of the great temptations of this sort of situation is that you still have children. They are still doing monstrous army guy set ups in the living room. The baby still wants to have you smash up a banana and sit down to nurse every 5 minutes. Children still need discipline, and conversation. Dinner still needs to happen. In spite of the huge pile of clothing cast-offs, regular life is ongoing.

In other words, these times of added activity in our lives are times when our hearts are under added pressure. It is easy to get so wound up with how it looks on the outside that we decide to let it all go to seed on the inside. But God looks on the heart. God prefers your ant infestation to a fussy infestation. God prefers a major backup on the dishes to a backup on repentance. God delights in a well kept heart, and does not care about the storage room. God sees the progress of your heart, and does not care about the progress on the outside. Of course the two are connected, but they are often not directly corresponding. Do not look as man looks, but rather look past the appearances.

God looks at the spiritual state of your home. He looks at how you are loving your children as you try to clean the house. He looks at how you handle your heart when you are confronted by physical obstacles. He wants to see our hearts in order, our hearts living joyfully before Him.

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16 thoughts on “March 6: I Samuel 16:7

  1. Amen! Thank you for writing these devotions. Those texta lids and dirty clothes are all over my house as well. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness. You must be in my house this week. Nesting (or trying to!) + regular messes + homeschooling + being wife and mommy makes me feel like my head is going to explode right now. Thank goodness God looks past those outward appearances. And yikes-a-bee that He sees my “fussy infestation”.

  3. Thank you so much for blessing me with these daily devotionals. It seems that every single one is written for me. Thank you.

  4. I love what you have written before about the hardest part of housekeeping being that you have to keep doing it; and isn’t this also true for keeping up with the state of our hearts!… On another note, what the heck are cootie-catchers?

  5. I should have read his earlier. I have been sick as a dog, and prickly as a porcupine today. Ouf.

  6. Thank you – this is much needed during this “Spring Cleaning” time of year – I know I have drastically scaled back my cleanliness expectations – with having 4 kids it just feels futile and I end up getting grumpy at the kids when they make a mess or get in my way. I am more just a clean as needed person now and it is much more sanity saving.

  7. A great reminder that the attitude and state of the heart I have while doing the task, is more important than the task itself.

  8. We are at the end of a big renovation and this is totally hitting home. There’s nothing worse then being in the middle of fixing something and the baby starts crying and the kids start fussing and all you want to do is ignore them and think only of me and what I want to do. Thanks for the great reminder that I need to keep my heart and mind fixed on the importants things that God has given me to care for (kids and hubbie) and keep a better attitude!

  9. Thank you for this necessary reminder! It’s too easy to be complacent and excuse yourself of the attitude and frustration that often comes in “Spring Cleaning” situations.

  10. Ahhh! Once again, it sounds like you are writing about my exact house, struggles, and life right now (although I only have 4 little ones)! Have definitely been letting my frustrations with the constant mess and my constant desire to organize and clean, to justify my sinful responses to my husband and children. May God give us the eyes to see eternity (and hearts) in each moment and mess of our days.

  11. Wow! You described perfectly what has been going on in my home lately (add homeschooling). I have started noticing every little thing that “needs” to be fixed and have allowed it to overwhelm me which has led to a bad heart attitude. I’ve had to repent to the Lord and my family. I think I need to read this reminder every day! 🙂

  12. This is really humbling. God sees my heart- ALL THE TIME. He knows how I’m treating my family members and whether or not I’m being humble, submissive, forgiving and loving. I don’t know but it’s easy to forget that.

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