If you are like me you see this hashtag posted by bloggers, public speakers and facebook evangelists daily. It usually follows a post about sinful behavior or obstacles that keep us from becoming our best selves in God. It pushes us to rethink our behavior and maybe even consider a different approach. But what really is a heart check? And if I wanted to do one, what would it look like? How does one check their own heart?
For the past few weeks I’ve been reading the second half of II Chronicles (starting at chapter 10). It tells the story of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, and how their rulers had a habit of turning away from the ordinances of God. King after king would reign and each (with the exception of a few) would turn from the way of their father David and follow their own desires. It is in these chapters that I read concerning King Rehoboam, “He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD” (II Chronicles 12:14). It is in these chapters that I also read concerning King Asa and Judah, “They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul” (II Chronicles 15:12). These two men led Judah two different ways and therefore experienced two different realities. King Rehoboam was only concerned with furthering his agenda, while King Asa knew to be successful he would have to submit to the God of his fathers. I wish hashtag heart check existed in the Old Testament, because if it did I believe each King would’ve asked themselves these questions:
1. Am I submitting to God?
To check my heart successfully I first have to recognize that there is a God who is BIGGER, wiser, and more powerful than me in every way. However, it is not enough to simply know that God exists, even the demons know that (James 2:19). I have to follow that belief with a willingness to relinquish my will for His. This submission is not based on my understanding but on my belief that He is exactly who He says He is. My Creator. My King. And my Savior.
2. Who and/or what am I seeking?
To check my heart successfully I have to be honest about who and/or what I am seeking. In both of the bolded scriptures above, the key word is “seek.” King Rehoboam wanted the approval of his friends so he sought their advice. He wanted to continue in the way of his father even though it was clear God was calling him to lead differently. On the other hand King Asa wanted the approval of God so he sought God and experienced peace in the land of Judah.
Seeking God is a continual act that never ends. It is holding on to the promise that if I seek Him he will be found (I Chronicles 28:9). It requires prayer and consecration which births relationship. And it’s this relationship that ensures I am being led by the spirit and not by my own desires.
3. Am I being obedient to God?
The last key to checking my heart is to look at my track record of obedience. There’s a huge difference between knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it. It is this step that many of the Kings would stumble over. They acknowledged the Lord, sought Him for wisdom, but when under pressure resorted to following the way of the world. It is this step that we all have to practice. Not just when something BIG overwhelms us but during everyday tasks. Did I give when God urged me to give? Did I serve even when no one was watching? Was I kind when I wanted to retaliate?
Jeremiah 19:7 tells us “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” So if left to itself the heart would drown in it’s sin, but God has empowered us to not only check our heart but to pursue a new heart in Him. As Psalm 51 says He is able to create in each of us a pure heart. Submitting to His will, seeking Him diligently and obeying His Word is then a bi-product of our relationship with the One that has made us brand new.