Volume 11, Number 1, July-August 2007

The Heart-Knower

by Jimmie Parr

Have you ever met a "know-it-all" type of person who observes the actions of others and (supposedly) is able to tell why people do what they do? This "know-it-all" may understand, for instance, why a neighbor never keeps a car for a very long time, and never has an old car. "Oh, John won't keep a car more than two years. He's gotta go get a new one because he thinks he's too good to drive an older car."

But perhaps John, when he was growing up, had been around older cars that often failed his family. He may have, as a child, spent some time sitting in a stalled car while it was being pushed to its destination. Possibly, when he got older, he contributed some grunt-force, himself, in shoving around some old rust-bucket. And by the time that he became an adult, he had grown so weary of having older cars stall out and leave him stranded that he became determined to avoid having an undependable car at all costs. John may not care much at all about the appearance of his car, being primarily interested in its reliability-its ability to get him from point A to point B-so his having a nice-looking car is merely a coincidental byproduct of owning a newer, more dependable, car.

When I was in junior high school, I became rebellious, and that rebellious streak lasted well into my high school years. As a senior in high school, I first heard Mr. Ted Armstrong on the television program, The World Tomorrow. Mr. Armstrong's subject concerned the Sabbath. I scoffed and declared that I would prove the notions presented to be wrong. As I looked more closely into the Sabbath and other teachings of the Worldwide Church of God at that time, some members of my family, who all knew that I had spent most of my teenage years in a rebellious attitude, assumed that my looking into the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God was simply more rebellion on my part.

Yes, I had dug that hole for myself because of past rebelliousness, but those family members, in assuming that my looking into Mr. Armstrong's teachings was my way rebelling against the Baptist Church, put themselves in a position of not being able to understand and help me. No matter what I told them to the contrary, they were sure that I was rebelling. If, instead of looking into the Worldwide Church of God, I had gotten involved with Islam, should those family members have stood by, arms crossed, mumbling, "He's just rebelling," and offered no help?

In a speech class at Ambassador College, Mr. Richard Ames showed a twenty-minute educational film called The Eye of the Beholder. This movie, made for psychology classes, introduces viewers to a way of thinking which psychologists call projection. A person who projects believes that he understands the actions of others because he is assuming that others do things for the same reasons that he does things. He projects his motivations on the activities of others. The film showed several nosy neighbors observing the actions of a certain man as he ran errands in the neighborhood. One nosy neighbor, with a history of mental disorders in her family, said, "The way that he acts shows that he is unstable." Another snoopy neighbor, with a tendency toward kleptomania, declared, "I can tell that that guy is a crook." Other spying neighbors pinned their own motivations on the man running errands. At the end of the film, the man running his errands is shown to be a happy, busy person, and completely innocent of anything that the overly-curious neighbors assumed of him.

In Acts 1:24, the apostles are asking for guidance in choosing the successor to Judas. They referred to God as One "which knowest the hearts of all." According to Strong's, the words knowest and hearts are translated from #2589, kardiognostes-a heart-knower (from the Greek words, kardio, heart, and ginosko, to know). Could Strong's #2589-Heart-knower-be one of God's many names? If God is, indeed, the Heart-knower, then what does that make all of the "know-it-all" people who love to project others motives? Are they running where they should fear to tread? Is the ability to be able to tell intentions and purposes of others strictly a domain of God's? Are those who think themselves able to know why others do things appointing to themselves duties belonging solely to God? Are they playing God?

In Acts 5:1-10, Peter knew that Ananias and Sapphira had sold some property and told everyone concerned that they had given all of the money from that sale to the apostles. Peter knew that they had held back part of the money. Wouldn't we all agree that God had revealed to Peter the knowledge that part of the money from the sale had been withheld?

And yet Peter did not attach a motive to the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira. He asked Ananias, "Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?" in verse 4. Peter could easily have said, "You people kept the money because you're greedy," or "You fearful people: you're hoping that this Church will last, but I know that you're afraid that it may turn out to be a failure, so you stashed back some loot for a cushion. I don't have to ask why you did what you did." Peter knew what Ananias and Sapphira did. But Peter did not attempt to answer why they did it.

In Jesus' command to us concerning assessing others' actions, Jesus seems to have separated the discernment of what is done from why it is done. He said, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" in Acts 7:24. In other words, don't think that you can read a person's mind and figure out, by how something appears to you, why a person does something, but stick to using the law (righteous judgment--Psalms 119:172) in order to figure out whether an action is appropriate.

In, of all places, a train station in France, I found out how powerful judging by appearances can be. I had just arrived at the station, and the schedule showed that my train was supposed to arrive at the time showing on the clock at the station. So I wondered whether I had gotten there just before the train arrived, or just after it had left. I walked up to a woman and asked her, in French, whether my train had not yet arrived, or had already come and gone. She looked at me and saw an American. Her appraisal of my appearance drowned out my French-speaking. She was sure that she heard me talking in English. She replied, "No English." I said, in French, that I was speaking to her in French. I told her two more times, in French, that I was talking to her in French. I got two more "No English" replies. I finally said it loudly enough that she heard. She shook her head as if coming out of a trance, laughed, apologized, and told me that that train had not yet arrived, and that she was also waiting for it.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" says Jeremiah 17:9. The answer is in the next verse: "I the Lord (not a "know-it-all" neighbor) search the heart, I try the reins." Also, notice Psalms 139:1-3; 23, 24.

In dealing with our children, it is our obligation to "judge righteous judgment" in looking at their actions. We are obliged to tell them where they go wrong. But we can't read their minds. Just as Peter asked, "Why?" to Ananias and Sapphira, we should challenge our children to ask themselves why they do things. We should be ready with suggestions for possible explanations. But it may well be that parents who jump to conclusions concerning why their children do things do more harm than good.

As it says in Acts 7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."  &


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