Put Your Heart to Test…1 Chronicles 29:17

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“I know, O my God, that you put hearts to test and that you take pleasure in righteousness” (1 Chronicles 29:17). Today’s verse comes from the last chapter of the First Book of Chronicles. In this chapter, David is addressing the people about the Temple that he wishes to build for the Lord. He has brought together many offerings in gold and bronze, precious stones and all the other necessary materials to build it. He has given all of his personal fortune to the project and he encourages the assembly to make offerings as well. And they all come forward, wholeheartedly, to contribute to this holy project. It is a celebration of giving. Or is it a celebration of “thanksgiving”?

David then lifts up a powerful prayer recognizing an important truth that we are to consider and take seriously. That truth is that everything that we give to God, for example, our tithes, was already given freely and generously to us by God. Nothing is ours. Everything has been given to us by God. This is a recognition that can only come from a well developed attitude of humility. David says, “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should have the means to contribute so freely? For everything is from you, and what we give is what we have from you.” (verse 14) Then he adds this strange comment, “I know, O my God, that you put hearts to the test and that you take pleasure in righteousness.”

Though we are still living in the bright glow of this year’s Easter events, that glow dims when we again begin to realize that what hindered us from being what God wants us to be in the past is still there. Our attitudes of pride and greed, jealousy and self-indulgence still get in the way of the kindness, peace, and justice that God calls us to in his Son Jesus. Though, as we know in faith, we are called to righteousness, our hearts are still tested. God tests our hearts, challenging us to turn away from all that hinders us, and it is in humility that we realize that we can only do this with God’s generous gifts of grace. Here we realize the same thing that David recognized above: that our righteousness, just like David’s wealth to build the Temple, comes from God, not from ourselves, not from our own strength.

What does this mean for us? The test that we experience at all times is to open our hearts and to submit our wills, humbly accepting the fact that we are utterly dependent on God for all that is good, true, and beautiful in this life. If pride was the first sin, then humility is its only remedy. In humbly recognizing that everything is pure gift from God, our natural response will be, like David’s, a response of praise and thanksgiving. There is the truth. When we come to realize that everything; our lives, our families, friends, our sustenance, the beauty of nature all around us, our intellects, our free wills, all of our talents and, finally, the gift of our salvation, comes from God alone, our lives can become a continuous act of thanks and praise. That, in the end, is all that we have to offer, isn’t it; our humble thanks and praise.

Lord, help us to recognize this truth that all good things come from you. Give us the wisdom, the strength, and the graces we need to stand the test and to become the righteous persons you want us to be. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.