Proverbs 27:19, Matthew 15:19, Psalm 51:10
Many years before I became a pastor, I really spent a lot of my summer wakeboarding and I remember a friend of mine one day came out on the boat with us and he decided to snap a few pictures. A few weeks later, he handed me a few prints. He mentioned that he decided to put a Bible passage on one of the pictures because he knew I was going to become a pastor and he wanted to make sure that I hung it in my office and I’ve done that very thing to this day.
The passage that he chose was this from Proverbs 27, verse 19
As water reflects a person’s face, so a person’s heart reflects the person.(Proverbs 27:19)
I wonder if he saw my look of passion for the sport on my face reflected off the water, something that he could see, and that’s why he chose the passage. Or maybe you just chose a passage out of the hat because he needed something to put so it actually put it up in my office. Who knows? Over the years, though, as I’ve hung that picture in my office, I’ve wondered a lot about that passage. I think the first half of it is very easy to understand as water reflects a face. We know how you look into some water and you see your image, right? You see what you look on the outside.
What about the second half? So a man’s heart reflects the man. Many biblical scholars believe that’s referring to this truth, that really who you are is determined by what’s inside, what’s inside your heart. Deep down. It’s kind of a scary thought, if you think about it. Jesus himself said,
To be sure, out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimonies, and blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19)
Kind of a scary thing to think about your true identity being what you see in your heart. Now, that same day when my friend took that excellent picture of me jumping off the wave just at the perfect time, looking like I was totally in control, he also took another picture. A picture that I don’t display in my office. In fact, it sits right behind the other picture in the very same frame. It’s a picture of an epic fail.
Between the two pictures, I’ve wondered if that’s really that second picture that probably characterizes best my skill at wakeboarding. I’m really not as good as that first image gives that impression. But I’m actually pretty terrible.
Isn’t that the case when it comes to looking deep down inside of us, seeing our own heart? Yes, maybe we give the impression to everyone else on the outside that we’re upright and good. We want to do the right thing all of the time. But in our heart of hearts, we know our sin. We know our sinful desires. For this reason that King David said in Psalm 51
Create in me a pure heart, O God. Renew an unwavering spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
David knew his sin and he asked God that he would purify his heart, that he would renew an unwavering spirit within him. That’s exactly what God has done for you and for me. Through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, through being washed in the waters of baptism, he has given us a new heart, he has cleansed us of our sin, given us new life and a new identity in him. And he’d have us not look upon our old sinful nature and see that as that our identity, but to see our new self that has been created by the Holy Spirit in us, the new life that he has given, that’s been purified by him through his blood to see that as our identity. He’d have us live in that identity.
Let us rejoice in what God has done for us, that he has made us new people in Christ, that he has given us a new heart as we are new men, new people in Christ. Amen.