We can’t know absolutely what anyone is thinking… nor can we determine if a person is or is not saved. But it IS possible to evaluate people’s behavior to a degree and from their conduct and words. In fact, Jesus calls us to do that very thing when He said, “By their fruit (conduct, words) you will know them” (Mt 7:15-20). Jesus DID say, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt 12:34).
So is it possible to know a person’s heart to some degree? I have two suggestions. One for observation and the other for understanding.
Observation. Be a student of people. Watch… listen… observe and compare what you see with Scripture (More importantly, strive to live these yourself). Here are two passages for consideration…
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then… compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
A pure heart will speak words that build others up. They will not be bitter, angry, or speak ill of others. They will be kind, tender, and forgiving. They will be compassionate, humble, and patient… quickly forgiving. They will love all and be at peace in themselves. They will be thankful to God and filled with God’s Word. Everything they do will be to honor and glorify God.
Observing things to the contrary will reveal a good deal of a person’s heart… including our own.
Understanding. By and large, whatever a person IS, they project onto others. If a person is honest, they will think others are honest. If a person is forgiving, they believe others will forgive. If a person is faithful, they will believe others to be faithful… and visa versa. Those who are deceitful will think others like them. If they’re manipulative they will think others are too. If they can’t be trusted they won’t trust anyone else. This is found in Titus 1:15…
To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
The first person’s heart to discern is our own! How do WE measure up to Ephesians 4:29-32 and Colossians 3:12-17? What do we project on others as to their motives? To a great degree, what we project IS who we are ourselves. So we must consider what the first thoughts are we have toward others to discern ourselves! Just a few morning thoughts…