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It's All About the Heart -- Numbers 14:24

While recently reading the biblical account of the 12 spies who were sent to explore the land of Canaan, I was struck by God’s assessment of Caleb, who was one of only two spies who believed the Israelites could take possession of the land God had promised them. After scouting the land and returning with a report about Canaan’s abundance, Caleb’s recommendation was, “We can do it!”

The other ten spies, however, spread a negative report among the people, focusing on the size and power of Canaan’s inhabitants. In essence, their assessment was “We can’t do it!” Those ten spies grumbled so much and put so much fear into the Israelites that the entire population rebelled against going into Canaan. What doesn’t make sense is the Israelites felt that the better alternative would be to return to Egypt, even though they had been under the mistreatment and bondage of the Egyptians.

Despite the pleading of Joshua and Caleb that they should not be afraid of Canaan’s inhabitants, and that the Lord would be with them in taking the land, their pleas fell on hardened ears.

The consequences of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion was that no one over the age of twenty years old would be able to enter the promised land. The Israelites were to suffer for their unfaithfulness in the desert for forty years, one year for each of the forty days the spies explored the land; and, by the end of those forty years, no one over the current age of twenty years old would remain alive.

However, God made two exceptions. Because of the obedience and faithfulness of Caleb and Joshua, the Lord gave those two godly men the rights to enter the promised land.

Because of my deep Miami roots, I am an unwavering University of Miami fan. For anyone familiar with the upper echelon of sports, especially fans of the ACC teams, they’ll be familiar with Miami’s catch phrase, “It’s all about the U!”

In this case, “It’s all about the heart!” God said of Caleb, “Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land…” (Numbers 14:24 NIV). We know from 1 Samuel 16:7 that the Lord makes His judgments of man by looking at the heart. Regardless of how beautiful, pious or godly someone may seem from outward appearances, God is able to see beyond the exterior to know each person’s true spirit and heart.  

I couldn’t help but wonder what God sees when He looks down on a church congregation. How many of those sitting in the pews are grumbling about the pastor or the church in general? Or, how many are criticizing the music program?  How many are looking at their watches, wishing for the service to end? How many are judging or talking negatively about other parishioners? Like the Israelites, sometimes it only takes one or two dissenters to create problems within an entire church congregation. And, as a ripple effect, this is the type of thing that turns off outsiders to Christianity in general. 

Or, like Joshua and Caleb, how many are in the pews because they came with a prepared heart to be blessed?  Or, they believe God is capable of keeping all His promises, and He is worthy of their praise and worship?

Regardless of how sanctimonious we may feel about ourselves when we walk into a church building, remember, “it’s all about the heart.” God isn’t looking on our outward appearance, no matter how good we think that is, but He is looking at what’s in our heart. The lack of authentic spirituality, and all the negativity, hypocrisy and attitudes that hide within the crevices of our heart, God is able to see it all. And, He’s either going to be repulsed, or He’s going to be pleased. As God saw in Caleb, does God see a different spirit in you?  Do you follow Him wholeheartedly? What, exactly, is in your heart?

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