Looking upon You (2)
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17.10
Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
But establish the just;
For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. Psalm 7.9
“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16.7
What does He see?
We have established that the Lord Jesus keeps His eye continually set on each one of us. It’s a mystery how He can do this, and we have to be content with that. We cannot understand how He is able to look upon every one of us all the time; but we can understand that the Scriptures say He does. We accept that, and we rest in the continuous, loving, gaze of our Good Shepherd.
But what precisely is the Lord looking for as He gazes continually upon us? Of course, He sees all the outward things we are doing, and He makes note of all our ways. As we look to see Jesus seeing us, we are like soldiers standing inspection. We want to make sure that everything about our outward appearance reflects the gaze of Him Who looks upon us continually. We want Jesus to see Himself refracted through all our ways, for then He – and we – will know that He truly lives in us, and the life we live in the flesh we are living by the grace and in the power of the Lord Who dwells in us (Gal. 2.20, 21).
We are never out of the Lord’s sight; He sees all our ways. The more we look at Jesus, looking upon us, the more we will increase in love for Him and want our lives to be like His, as Nicholas of Cusa explained. To see the face of Jesus, Nicholas argued, is to see the template for every countenance – those caring and sympathetic eyes, that welcoming smile, that loving gaze, those lips of grace from which the Word of God continuously flows, that face set like flint to do the will of God.
Thus, Nicholas concluded, “Whence I now perceive that, if I hearken unto Thy Word, which ceaseth not to speak within me, and continually enlighteneth my reason, I shall be mine own, free, and not the slave of sin, and Thou wilt be mine, and wilt grant me to behold Thy face, and then I shall be whole.”
Beyond the outward person
But the loving and searching gaze of Jesus does not stop with our outward ways, seeking to know the extent to which they conform to His. The Lord searches our heart, to determine the bent and health of our affections. And He tests the mind, to see whether our thoughts are in line with His mind, which we have by virtue of our faith in Him (1 Cor. 2.16).
We want to see Jesus. We want to see the glory in His face (2 Cor. 4.6), so that we may bask in His love and be transformed to love Him more and to love more like He does (2 Cor. 3.12-18). So as we seek the face of Jesus, and – with the eye of the heart, not the physical eye – see Him seeing us, we must know that He is looking into the depths of our being, into our very souls.
Jesus searches the heart of each one of us. He wants to know whether our loves, desires, hopes, aspirations, and longings are set where they ought to be – on Him and on our neighbor. He searches us to discover any straying of our love to things or status or self; any holding back of complete love for Him; any unconfessed sins that block our fellowship with Him (Ps. 66.18).
He tests our minds to know what we’re thinking – what our plans are, what vision is guiding us, how we think about loving our neighbors, whether we are increasing in the knowledge of truth, and so forth. We have the mind of Christ, and our fullest wisdom, most complete knowledge, and most fruitful thoughts come when we’re thinking with His mind rather than our own.
As Jesus looks upon us with shepherding care, He is searching to see that our affections and thoughts are what they should be for us to know the fullest measure of life in Him. And not just so that He can know these.
What’s He testing for?
Recently we had a technician come and test a portion of our basement for mold. We’d had water in a certain spot, and we just wanted to make sure there was no mold before we finished the repairs. The technician looked with His equipment beyond the surface of our ceiling and wall, so that he could see what was going on inside there. Happily, he reported, there was no mold.
When Jesus looks upon us to search our hearts and test our minds, He’s looking for three things, those three great virtues that always remain: faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13.13). Is our faith set squarely on Him, or are we drifting to trust in created things? Are we hoping in His glory and inheritance, or have idols become our focus? Do we love Him and our neighbors, or is self-love diverting our affections from their proper focus?
As, in prayer and meditation, and waiting on the Lord, we look to see Jesus with the eye of the heart. As the Spirit opens our heart’s eye to allow the Light of Jesus and His wisdom and knowledge to shine within our soul, we must understand that He is searching and testing us. And we must listen, as by His Word and Spirit, He reports the results of His search. He will advise us of the state of our faith, hope, and love, and show us how to correct or improve these as needed.
The Spirit within us can reveal any sins, direct us into all righteousness, warn us of the Lord’s discipline – because He chastens whom He loves (Heb. 12.3-11) – and bring forth the fruit of more love to Jesus from our time seeking His face (Jn. 16.8-11; Gal. 5.22, 23). But we must seek the Lord’s face, waiting on Him in meditation and silence, praying for the revelation of His glory, and listening for the results of His searching and testing, as the Spirit reveals them to us.
Then we can repair any damage, put on the righteousness of Christ, and go our way under the gaze of the Lord to know, love, and serve Him in everything we do. Let us pray with Nicholas of Cusa, “Feed me with Thy gaze, O Lord, and teach me how Thy gaze regardeth every sight that seeth, and all that may be seen, and each act of seeing, and every power of seeing, or of being seen, and all the seeing which thence resulteth. For with Thee to see is to cause; Thou seest all things who causest all things.”
1. Why are faith, hope, and love – the “abiding virtues” – so important to the health of our souls?
2. What does it mean to wait on the Lord in prayer, silence, and meditation?
3. What should we expect from this time of seeking the Lord’s face?
Next steps – Transformation: As you pray, listen for one way you can improve each of faith, hope, and love in your life today.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.