June 2, 1992
Have you ever searched for treasure? Not necessarily treasure like a chest full of jewels depicted in pirate movies but something of value, perhaps a prize? Or a rare article that would bring you wealth or unusual reward?
There is an interesting idea about searching in the Bible. Psalm 139 says the Lord searches us and knows us. In other verses we are told that He searches every heart and knows what is inside. Is He just snooping, or is He looking for something in particular? If so, what? Is it possible that He is on a treasure hunt? And if so, what could Almighty God possibly find in us that He would consider valuable, a treasure?
Scripture seems to indicate this search is a diligent, careful probing. The same words are used in other contexts to describe investigation of legal cases, or the diligent search made in mining or exploration, or the work done to examine a particular subject, or the probing someone might do to unlock the secrets of a person’s feelings or character.
Can you imagine Sherlock Holmes investigating a room for the tiniest clue? Or a miner using his axe on every stone in a mine shaft as he seeks valuable minerals or gems? Try to envision an explorer searching out all the landmarks of an unexplored country, or a student researching a term paper. Or visualize a psychiatrist probing a patient’s responses. All of these examples give an idea of the manner in which God searches hearts.
However, God seems to have a different motive for His investigations. For one thing, the Bible gives no indication He searches hearts because He is ignorant of what we do or think and thus must discover what we try to hide. He already knows all things. Nor is hoping to find a rare IQ. Human wisdom, while important to us, rates very little in the eyes of God (1 Corinthians 1 and 2). Furthermore, the Bible does not say we are uniquely unknowable and God searches in order to get to know us. It is not the mysteriousness of our character that prevents a personal relationship with God, but rather our sin. Because of that, I doubt His favorite activity involves dissecting human mind patterns. For many, that is like sifting garbage.
So what exactly is God doing by searching hearts? What is He looking for? Luke 18:8 supplies the answer in another question. Jesus, speaking in the third-person about His second appearance, asks; When He (meaning Himself) comes, will He find faith on the earth?
With that, Jesus reveals that God is looking for faith, a believing response to His revelation of Himself through His Son and His Word. He seeks even the slightest inclination to abandon sin and believe in Him. He asks: “Is it possible that I will find any faith?”
Left on our own, the Bible says He would not. According to Romans 3, we have all gone our own way, no one seeks God, no one believes. Yet God, because He loves us, is not satisfied to leave us in this bankrupt condition. He longs to find the treasure, even determines He will find it.
Because that is so, and because we lack faith (as well as anything else we need to please God), He knows the only way He will find this treasure is if He puts it there Himself. That is why He gives us faith as it says in Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God...” What a gracious act of God — He looks for faith, finds none, and rather than give up because we come up empty, He grants it as a gift!
Not that we have no part in this treasure hunt: Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” We must involve ourselves with the Bible. The faith necessary to believe it accompanies that involvement — as we are willing to say YES, both to the words we read and the faith God wants to give to us.
When that happens — when God gives and we receive through His Word — we can be sure that when Jesus returns (and even before that) His search will be not be a wasted effort; He will find the faith He is looking for.