Have you ever thought or wondered about how you are known or seen or felt by those around you? It’s an important concept but I’m not sure it is one that many of us take too much time to think through. You know how you feel or see others, but have you ever taken the time to consider how you are felt, seen, heard…how you are known? The more we read our Bibles and study God’s word the clearer one thing becomes…our faith is shown in how we live our lives. It’s not just in our minds but it is seen and felt in our lives, in our interactions with others, and just comes out in life. As much as we humans try, you just can’t hide who you really are. Your heart condition will come out. Your spiritual condition is seen and felt by everyone around you. You just can’t hide who you really are…you can try to pretend. You can smile and be kind and do good things, but who you truly are, and how you truly are responding to God and life is seen, heard, and felt. It comes out…you simply can not hide who you are. What is interesting is that as Christians, we know that our faith is literally all about engaging God and living differently. (We call this transformation or life change.) We know and will confidently tell others that Christianity, is all about asking Jesus into our lives and being changed by Him from the inside out…yet many Christians even those who champion life change to others, have never humbled themselves and surrendered their lives to God, and allowed Him to transform their own lives. They haven’t allowed Him to rid them of their old lives, their old hearts and desires and they continue to live life as they always have…their form of Christianity doesn’t lead to action or changes in their lives. Now, they want to go to Heaven, and they love God…but there is no new life, no new heart, they never experience the transformation of the heart. They have changed some behaviors, maybe cleaned up their language some, attend church somewhat regularly, and try to be good people…but life change, true transformation, a new Godly heart replacing the old heart of stone in their lives? No. They talk of life change and transformation and tell others of this amazing life Jesus came to provide for them, but they are not experiencing it. What is interesting is, while they aren’t experiencing all that could be in their Spiritual lives, they still try to show people the good Christian lives they are living, and it can look ok, and impress those who aren’t paying attention, but in the end, who we truly are always comes out, and often leads to many hurt people being pushed further and further away from God, by people who we humans believe are godly, who just aren’t living out their faith. Today we are going to take a deeper dive into what it truly looks like to be a Christian, and we will dive into why so many talk up their faith without living it, and frankly, Solomon will explain that a life lived in Godly Wisdom is a life that is lived with a transformed heart and a focus on the heart. You see, the wise understand that life is all about the heart. Your heart condition, your spiritual condition, the real you will and is coming out in various ways. You simply can’t hide your heart; it comes out, it is seen, heard, and felt.
This summer we are taking a Deeper Dive into Wisdom. We are circling back and working through some of the big topics that Solomon speaks of often in His Manual for Living, the book of Proverbs. This is an important way to study Proverbs because Solomon throws so many different thoughts, great one-liner statements, and important life principles at us, that we don’t want to miss out, we want to be able to process and personalize as much of His wisdom as we can, so circling back to these bigger statements is important and we have hit some important topics from our mouths to not being a spiritual victim, to how to accomplish things in life, to what humility and pride lead to, and last week Ken was diving deeper into the Christian life, what it is and what it can lead to. I want you to see that in the last few weeks, we have spent some time in Proverbs 15, and 16. These chapters are very powerful, and Solomon drops all this wisdom, showing us what a Godly Life truly looks like. Now today we are going to dive into chapter 17 which exposes different heart issues that should or should not be seen inside someone living a Godly life. What is interesting is that so many of us associate wisdom with our brains and intelligence levels…but remember what wisdom is…it isn’t just intelligence; it isn’t just how smart you are…wisdom is what? Knowledge AND the capacity to live that knowledge out. This is very important because we can think a lot of things in our brains, but if it never transfers to our hearts and lives…it is nothing, it’s empty. Solomon understands this and often talks about the importance of the heart. He literally tells us the most important thing we can do is guard our hearts because it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. NIV
I want you to see this, the most important thing we can do…above all else, we are to guard our hearts. Why? What does it mean that it is the wellspring of our lives? Well, check it out in the NLT version this helps us see something important about it.
Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. NLT
Solomon is letting us see that the driver, the engine of your life, the thing that is determining the way your life goes is your heart. You could say that your heart is who you really are. So, the most important thing you can do is guard and care for it, and make sure that your heart is full of Godly health and wisdom…because it’s our hearts that lead us through life. It is your heart that is seen, heard, and felt by those around you. It’s your heart that takes knowledge and makes it wisdom…your heart is a big deal. You may be able to pretend you are something you are not from time to time, but your heart condition will reveal who you really are, it comes out…and Scripture shows us time and time again that your heart condition is truly determining how you live, what you value, how you relate to people, every aspect of your life is seen, heard and felt through the condition of your heart. Your heart condition is who you really are, and you just can’t hide who you really are…no matter how hard you try. Life, people and this world will squeeze it out and expose the real you. It will be revealed, and it is. Which is interesting and should be good and exciting news for a Christian, because we claim to live with a new heart, a transformed heart am I right? I mean we know what the Bible says about what God is up to with our hearts…God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel here…
Ezekiel 11:19 I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you. I’ll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. 20 Then you’ll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God! MSG
God wants to give us a new heart, put a new spirit in us, he wants to rid us of our hearts of stone…and I want you to see the very next verse because just like Solomon explained, it’s the heart that leads to action…when the heart is changed, we will live differently. When we have a new heart THEN we will live out God’s commands. The heart is the driver of our lives, it reveals who we really are, not who we want people to think we are, and we need to see that our hearts are seen, heard, and felt. Your heart (who you really are) is extremely important to God, it is what He cares about most. But if we have spent any length of time around MRC, or reading our Bibles…we know this, don’t we? I mean we know how much the heart matters to God, right? One of the clearest looks at this is when God is speaking to the prophet Samuel about who of Jesse’s sons would be anointed the next king of Israel.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” NLT
So, before we move on let’s take a second and talk. I keep saying something to you today, and I not only want you to hear it, but I also want to make sure you are tracking with it. Do you understand how important the condition of your heart is? Do you understand that your heart condition is the driver of your life? Do you understand that you cannot hide the condition of your heart from others? Your heart condition is seen, it is heard, and it is felt by those who spend time with you. Have you ever stopped and thought about how you are known to others? Have you ever stopped and thought about how you make others feel? Do you take energy from them? Do you give energy and life to them? This is such a big deal…your heart is who you really are, and it is the driver of all you do. It’s the real you and the thing that Solomon says we must guard above all else, the very thing that if you truly live a Godly life has been completely transformed and is shown to the world. Everything comes down to your heart and you need to understand that no matter how hard you try to hide it your heart is seen, heard, and felt. The wise understand this and focus on their heart condition and are constantly growing…the fool lives a stagnant life with no interest in the heart. The wise know people well because they view people through this truth, and see past the fake, shallow stuff. They truly listen and pay attention to the words spoken, the choices made, and the interactions they have because they understand the heart is the real you, and it comes out.
Solomon understood this, allowing him to lead with a level of wisdom that impressed everyone. What is interesting is that this Godly Wisdom allowed him to grasp a critical truth, that to read people well, and to lead, and understand people, you must see, listen to, and focus on the heart. There’s a great example from his leadership where he leads well by exposing hearts. Shortly after Solomon asks for and is granted wisdom to lead his people well, He runs into a challenging situation, where two women are both claiming the same baby as their own. There was no DNA testing in those days, and this is a test of Solomon’s wisdom as they come to him for a solution…
1 Kings 3:17 “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. 18 Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house. 19 “But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. 20 Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. 21 And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.” 22 Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king. 23 Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. 24 All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king. 25 Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!” 26 Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!” 27 Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!” 28 When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice. NLT
While this seems intense, and frankly, like a rough way to settle this thing, Solomon knows that no matter how hard these women try to pretend, their hearts will be revealed. I want you to think about what he did. He exposed the hearts of the two women. He put their hearts on display and the answer on who truly loved the baby came out, because Solomon understands the importance of the heart, and that the true condition of your heart, regardless of how hard you try to fake it, will come out. No matter how good at hiding it you may be, your heart condition is seen, it is heard, and it is felt by those around you. This is why the wisest person who ever lived not named Jesus talks so much about how important the condition of your heart truly is, the wise understand it is the source of life, it is the driver of our lives, and no matter how hard we try, the heart comes out. It’s all about the heart.
So, this leads us to our talk today. I told you earlier that in Proverbs 15 and 16 Solomon is showing us how to live a Godly life and what that looks like, and then in chapter 17 it is very clear to me that Solomon wants us to see the heart. As we read through Proverbs 17 it shows so many things that hearts should or shouldn’t have and lists many different examples of how our hearts are seen, heard, and felt which is very important because our heart condition matters most to God, and should matter most to us. It truly is where life comes from, it is the real us, that truest version of ourselves, and no matter how good you think you are at hiding it, the heart is seen, felt, and heard. Let’s just walk through some of these verses from Chapter 17 that stand out the most and we will start with verse 3.
Proverbs 17:3 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart. NLT
I see two things to talk about here, first, the idea of purity is important. We should have a pure heart. Many people read this wise word from Solomon and focus on the concept of purity, and it is important…if you are walking in humility allowing God to lead your life, and spending time with Him. His desires will become yours, and you will have a passion to avoid sin and pursue a holy life. You won’t get it right all the time, and in those moments when you don’t there will be conviction and a heart to repent of sin. We live in a world that seems to blur those lines between sin and godliness more and more each day. So, this is very important, to pursue holiness and live with a pure heart but for me, the idea of fire testing the purity levels of silver and gold while God tests the heart is very important too. It’s amazing how hard life can be, and how many different tests, trials, or fires we walk through in life, and it is in those toughest and most challenging moments that our hearts are truly revealed and seen. You want to know who someone is, watch how they respond to difficulty and challenges, and pain in their lives. It’s under pressure that the heart truly comes out. We can try to hide it, but the heart is seen, heard, and felt and truly is exposed in challenging times.
Proverbs 17:4 Evil people listen to evil ideas, and liars listen to lies. GNT, (now the NLT) v 4 Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander. NLT
There will be a few times when Solomon seems to ask us what we are attracted to. Here he asks what we are drawn to, and what conversations we will entertain. Evil people listen and entertain evil, gossip, lies, and slander. So, take a moment and think about the conversations you find yourself in at work, around town, with your family and extended family, around your child’s sports teams, and even in your church community, and remember, no matter how hard you try to hide it your heart is seen, felt, and most definitely heard. What or who are you drawn to? What conversations are you in? This is important and exposes the heart. You can’t hide it, your heart is seen, felt, and heard.
Proverbs 17:5 Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished. NLT
We know that as Christians we are to do two things, love God and love others. So how are you doing with that? Do you compare and compete with others? Can you celebrate someone when they succeed? Can you be happy when someone else finds success or health? Do you scroll social media, or hear of someone doing something and get frustrated and upset because you aren’t, and maybe find some joy when others are struggling? This is your true heart condition coming out…remember, no matter how hard you try to hide it your heart is seen, felt, and heard.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends. GWT
We know as Christians we are to forgive; we know that we forgive because we are forgiven. We say it a lot, hurt people hurt people, but forgiven people forgive people. This is another great way to see, feel, and hear someone’s heart. How do they act when they are hurt? Are they able to forgive, let go, and give people the same grace, love, and forgiveness they would hope to receive, or do they keep bringing up the issue, and hanging on to it? Can they forgive some people but not others? Are there conditions for their forgiveness? Forgiveness is a big deal, it is so important that Jesus says if we can’t do it, God won’t forgive us. Scripture also says that if we do not love we are not truly of God, and forgiveness will really tell the tale. Can you forgive and let go of things? Do you talk about hurts and wounds that if you truly stopped and thought about it, happened years and years ago at this point? Why are you still carrying it around? A refusal to forgive is a major sign of your true heart condition. You can try to hide it, but the heart always comes out…it is seen, felt, and heard.
Proverbs 17:11 Criminals out looking for nothing but trouble won’t have to wait long — they’ll meet it coming and going! MSG
Once again, we see this concept of what we are attracted to, here seeing that like gossip and lies, those with the wrong heart seek and are attracted to trouble, and it is amazing, we always find what we are looking for in any situation. It’s interesting, isn’t it? We always do get what we are looking for in any environment. Two people can walk into the same situations, same environment, same church community let’s say…and one comes in looking for life change, for positives, and friendships and they find it. The other walks in skeptical, thinking of all the negatives of and around church and church people, and they eventually find it and leave as rejected as the other stays feeling accepted. You look for trouble, you will find it, you look for the right things and you will find them. It reveals your heart condition. You cannot hide your heart. It is seen, it is felt, and it is heard…no matter how hard you try your heart comes out.
Proverbs 17:14 The start of an argument is like the first break in a dam; stop it before it goes any further. GNT
You know, nothing reveals who we are more than how we relate to people. This reveals our spiritual condition and shows our true hearts. Life with people is challenging but important, it’s why Solomon says, “As iron sharpens iron one person sharpens another.” It reveals who we truly are and while it’s messy it helps us grow in many ways. So, what are your interactions with people like? Do you find yourself arguing and squabbling with people, lots of drama? Or are you in a lot more peaceful conversations? Are you a peacemaker in and around others, or do you like to stir things up? Remember your heart condition cannot be hidden, and how you relate to people and what those relationships look like will tell the tale. No matter how hard you try to hide it, your heart is seen, felt, and heard. Then later, Solomon hits this again, this time saying that friends always show love and that family and loved ones are there for each other in the tough times of life. Again, the heart comes out in relationships.
Proverbs 17:17 Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. MSG
The heart comes out in difficult times and challenges, and in our relationships, you just can’t hide it. I think the most challenging moments of a relationship are found with the people we care about most. You may be walking through some heartbreaking realities with your family. Maybe your children are making choices that hurt and scare you and drain you. Maybe it’s an issue with your spouse, maybe it’s with those closest to you, maybe in your Spiritual Family the church there are challenging things happening but your heart is very important here. Do you and can you continue to engage and love those you care most about, right where they are, even when it’s tough? We stick it out with those we love in the tough times. Your heart cannot be hidden, it is seen, felt, and heard.
Proverbs 17:19 To like sin is to like making trouble. If you brag all the time, you are asking for trouble. 20 Anyone who thinks and speaks evil can expect to find nothing good — only disaster. GNT
Again and again, we see Solomon talking about what we are attracted to. We just can’t hide the heart. Those who love and are attracted to sin, find it, they find trouble. The prideful boast and build themselves up, which is a dangerous game. Remember Jesus said, “If you puff yourself up you will get the wind knocked out of you.” And this takes us right back to the words that come out of our mouths, and the idea that the negative words lead to nothing good, only disaster. If you want to know how someone really feels, or who they are…just listen, they will tell you. Just to warn you when you do truly listen, it can be heartbreaking; I know it is for me at times around the churches and people I care about to truly listen to the word someone says while understanding this one very true word from Christ. If you want to know who someone is, just listen, they will tell you, Jesus explains this clearly here.
Matthew 12:34 “…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” NIV
You can try to hide your heart, but it is being seen, felt, and heard by those around you. What you are saying is revealing the real you. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. It’s amazing how often Solomon brings up the importance of, and the ramifications of our words, he will end this chapter by going back to our words yet again…
Proverbs 17:27 A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. NLT
Do you want to know the truth about someone, just listen, pay attention, they will tell you. It will come out in their jokes, and how they interact with you. It will come out in the subjects they talk about and how much or how little they talk. It will come out in how they use their words to build up or tear down as well. You can try to hide who you are, but your heart is seen, it is felt, and it is most definitely heard.
Matthew 12:34 “…for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” NIV
Our hearts are seen and heard, and they are most definitely felt by those around us. Have you ever thought about how you make people feel? Do you bring life and energy to people, or do you take it from them? Solomon says this in verse 22…
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. NLT
Are you an energy taker or an energy giver? Your heart is felt by those around you, and I want you to see that those who give energy have life and energy to give. Those who take energy have no life or energy to give so they take it from others. Think about this, what choices do you make to build joy, life, love, and God into your life to the point where you have it to share with others? Those who take energy do nothing to build into their own heart condition, so they sap the strength of those around them, and the shame of it is, they probably don’t know that they are sapping the strength of those around them because they walk away feeling so good and so energized…while the person they just took from walks away feeling drained and exhausted. So, which are you? Do you bring life to people, or do you take it from them? This is important because a disciple of Christ is walking with God and has filled their hearts with love and life to overflowing, so they have plenty to give. A follower of Christ is not a taker of energy but should be a bringer of life and strength to those around them. Remember there is no such thing as a “non-practicing” Christian. You can smile a lot, be really kind, do some good things, and try to hide it, but you need to understand your heart is seen, heard, and most definitely felt by those around you…you just can’t hide the real you.
This is probably the hardest and most painful part of Spiritual Leadership. I imagine it was a painful thing for Solomon to watch unfold around him…because he saw the heart so clearly in others. I can’t imagine how heavy hearted Jesus was seeing the real version of people in His time on this Earth. It’s tough when you are called to lead and help and focus on the hearts of those around us. Now we can’t change them, that is God’s job. We can’t make choices for people, that is the individual person’s job. But as you walk through life understanding this truth, that the heart is seen, heard, and felt, and you begin paying attention to it…let’s just say it can be very hard and even painful to watch people come to church and act like a Christian, while their words, actions, and lives…their hearts are saying the opposite. I would say that is the hardest thing about leading spiritually. We listen to the words people speak, understanding that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. We watch people fall to pieces through the tests and trials of their lives with the understanding that the heart comes out as life tests us. We watch people choose to live their lives for themselves, with no real care about sin, no choice to pursue holiness and it is hard to watch. We see people choose to live each day for themselves, they simply will not place God first in their lives and choose to ignore their heart condition so they have no life or energy to bring to others and they take and drain life and energy from those around them who do have some life to give, and it is so painful to see because the heart condition is the real person, and the heart comes out. It is seen, it is heard and it is most definitely felt…you just can’t hide the heart.
So, I have just one question as we close a very challenging talk today. Your heart is seen, it is felt, and it is heard. I want you to truly personalize this one very important question today.
How are you or how do you want to be seen, felt, and heard?
Maybe a better way to ask that question is this…
How are you or how do you want to be known?
Listen we love you so much, and this is a heavier talk, but it is so important. We must allow God all the way into our lives so He can transform our hearts. If we do, we are seen, heard, and felt in such an awesome way. We bring life, love, energy, health, truth, peace, and strength to those around us as we experience it in our own lives because the condition of our hearts comes out! This only happens when we are choosing to allow God all the way in, prioritizing Him in every aspect of each day, walking in step with His desires for our lives, and engaging and actively walking with Him each day. If we choose to continue to live our own way, pursuing our own desires rather than God’s, living each day for ourselves, checking out on life and God, putting up defenses around our hearts and not allowing God’s Word or love in, refusing to allow God ALL THE WAY into our hearts, well, unfortunately, that version of ourselves is very painfully seen, felt, and heard as well. You just can’t hide it, your heart is seen, heard, and felt…the real you comes out.
So, the big question of the day, to process, pray about, and think through is this. How are you known by those around you? How do you want to be known by those around you? Who are you to those around you? This is important, because your heart, who you truly are is not a secret, no matter how good you think you are at hiding it, it is seen, it is heard, and it is most definitely felt. You have a choice in this, you can allow God all the way in and experience a transformed heart, or not…but either way the real you is coming out…think it through, the real you is seen, felt, and heard, no matter how hard you try to hide it, the heart, the real you comes out.