God Knows The Motives In Every Heart
Paul had just written in sadness about the spiritual defection of two former leadership colleagues, but wanted to encourage Timothy that the Lord knows which of His people remain true to Him. Paul referred to the rebellion of Korah and his followers during the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness (Numbers 16 – do read the whole chapter). Moses declared that God knew who were true to Him and whose hearts had been deceived (Numbers 16:5). The end result was that Korah and all his followers died as the ground opened up and swallowed them alive. Paul was making the point to Timothy that, despite pastoral disappointments and spiritual defections, the Lord will deal with those who pursue their own path and vindicate those who love and obey Him.
At the same time, true believers must keep away from what is false and not let themselves be dragged into the sins of others (Numbers 16:26; Isaiah 52:11). The pressure of family and friends is hard to resist, but those who are trusting in the Lord must be willing to stand away from false teaching even if that means they lose once-prized relationships. It is only our relationship with the Lord which will count for eternity. So we must not prejudice it by joining in the rebellion of others, even if there seems to be a safety in numbers.
While this verse is a special personal encouragement to a church leader, the principles hold good for all followers of Jesus. Whatever your circumstances, the Lord knows and cares: He will honour the faithfulness of your heart (1 Samuel 2:30). You can trust Him to deal with the people who have rebelled against the Lord; they will have to answer to the Lord and not to you. At the same time we need to be careful to guard ourselves, lest we are deceived into following a false way. Reading the Bible is the best way to calibrate our hearts and inform our minds about the difference between right and wrong. Following the advice of friends, or in books or on the internet, without checking it with what God’s Word says, is easy and commonly occurs; but it can be so dangerous in the end. Let the Word be at work in you today, and make some godly decisions about holding fast to what is true.
© Dr Paul Adams