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“[Samuel] looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’ ” (1 Samuel 16:6,7).

WE CAN BE GLAD THAT THE LORD IS MORE CONCERNED WITH OUR HEART THAN WITH OUR EXTERNAL APPEARANCE. He knows things about us that others can’t see. That is a comforting thought (and to tell the truth, it is also sobering). When Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to anoint Israel’s new king, he naturally thought that Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, would be the Lord’s choice. But no, God wanted David, the youngest son. Below the surface, God could see that David had the character that was needed.

Today, the Lord is not looking for the next king of Israel; He is looking for those who will be “a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9) — those who will respond gratefully to the gospel and be eager to live in a reconciled, joyful relationship with Him. But if He is to have a people who are uniquely His possession, what will their character be like? What kind of heart is the Lord looking for?

Penitent hearts. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Are we humble individuals who know what the tears of godly sorrow taste like?

Committed to the Lord’s ways. Of King Jehoshaphat, it was said that “his heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 17:6). God has always looked for hearts like that.

Loyal to the Lord. God said of Solomon, “His heart was not loyal to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4,6 NKJV). Of the traits that God desires, few, if any, are more important than loyalty and reliability.

When we obey the gospel, we begin to grow in these qualities. But there is a sense in which these are the traits that make a person responsive to the gospel in the first place. And lest we make excuses, let’s admit this fact: we ourselves choose whether we will have such hearts or not. So let’s choose wisely. With His help, let’s learn to have the kind of heart the Lord is looking for.

“O Lord, let me not henceforth desire health or life, except to spend them for thee, with thee, and in thee. Thou alone knowest what is good for me; do, therefore, what seemeth to thee best. Give to me, or take from me; conform my will to thine” (Blaise Pascal).

Gary Henry — +

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