Whenever you go to the doctor for an examination he most likely will check your heart. He will test your heart. He will listen and he will check your pulse. I want to talk to you about TESTING THE HEART in another way.
We all have certain standards by which we measure or test the propositions we hear or the articles of clothing we buy. We make certain tests and we want to be sure that what we buy is of good quality.
In life we must also make certain tests to determine the realities that we have to deal with. We are so made that the inner part of our being must undergo some of these testings. That’s why I’m talking about testing the heart. The conditions in life sometimes form those testings.
From John 11:17-27, we read of an experience of two sisters’ hearts that were tested.
17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
From Martha’s experience I discover certain APPROACHES to the testing of the heart.
The first Approach:
The Limitation of Friends.
The neighbors came. This text told us the neighbors came to comfort Mary and Martha. It was what you might call a community of comfort. What could these people do? The brother was dead. So all they could do was try to sympathize. I’m sure the sisters appreciated this, but it didn’t restore the brother or help a great deal in lifting their sorrow. Here was a real test of heart, to be able to endure this trial. At the same time these friends tried their best to comfort.
Then Martha heard that Jesus was coming and she quickly went out to meet Him. But Mary sat still in the house. Mary mourned alone. But Martha quickly went to meet Jesus, the comforter, the real comforter.
Here the heart was being tested by the limitation of the friends. All of us likely have had similar experiences. We have appreciated everything our friends could do. But the real test of the heart meant that we in some way could not actually receive all the comfort that our community of friends offered to us. It can go only so far and that’s as far as a comfort of friends can go.
There’s a second Approach to the test of the heart:
The Stimulation of Hope.
Martha made a very strong statement when she met Jesus. She said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Evidently Martha believed if Jesus had been there, He would have done something so that their brother would not have died. She expressed this ray of hope. She made this statement of trust. Then she went on to say, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”
That is a really outstanding statement of trust. Jesus said to her, “Thy brother shall rise again.” Here was that stimulation of hope. Here was Jesus firing up in Martha’s heart a ray of hope. She expressed herself like this, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” But Jesus meant something more than that. He was helping Martha to build her hope.
The stimulation of hope is an approach to the test of the heart. Yes, “Thy brother shall rise again,” Jesus said to Martha. And that was indeed a ray of hope.
There’s a third Approach by:
The Formulation of Faith.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
I’m asking you the same question that Jesus asked Martha. Do you believe this? Jesus in this statement is saying much, much more than many people attribute to Him. He is more than a prophet. He is more than a good teacher. He said, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” Now weigh His words carefully, dear friend, because you should follow in the same way that Martha followed with an affirmation of faith. She said, “Lord, I believe.” She said, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world.”
Martha formulated her faith in a marvelous statement. I believe the heart is tested by this formulation of faith.
By these approaches, your heart is tested, too: by the limitation of friends, who can only go so far; by the stimulation of hope from the Lord Jesus; and by the formulation of your faith, I believe.
I urge you to follow Martha in these approaches and believe like she did, that Jesus is the Son of God who should come into the world.