Unlike Us, Jesus Truly Knows the Hearts of Others

Jesus knew what the scribes were thinking (Matt 9:4). He knows what we’re thinking too. He knows everything. There are no absences in the omniscience of God.

This is not true of any of his creatures — not even the angels, fallen or unfallen. We humans are of massively less intelligence than the angels. Dionysius says that “the intellectual power of the angel shines forth with the clear simplicity of divine concepts.” (Divine Names, vii) Their minds are close to God. Meanwhile, we tend to muddy things up.

Still, there are things even angels do not know. There is nothing that God does not know. All knowledge, in fact, comes from God. If you know a thing (and that’s as opposed to thinking that you know a thing), it is because God has given it to you to know. If God did not give the gift of knowledge, you do not know what you think you know. You merely believe it. And mere belief is not knowledge.

Everybody has an opinion. But not everybody has knowledge. The reason angels and men do not know everything is because God has not given us everything to know.

One of the things he does not give us, usually, is the knowledge of one another’s thoughts. People sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that they know what other people are thinking. And this so often leads to judgmentalism. How commonly we fail to give the benefit of the doubt. How commonly we fail to admit our own ignorance to ourselves. We do not know what other people are thinking. We cannot judge them. We do not know their hearts or intentions. But God does.

We should try to remember that we are not Jesus when we are tempted to believe our own suspicions about other people. Let’s become guileless. Let’s stop thinking we know what we do not know. Let’s become unassuming. Or, if we must assume, let’s assume the best possible intentions on the part of others.

I do not say that we should not judge good from evil. I do not say that we should not judge actions. We can, we should, and we must. Paul exhorts us today: “hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9). Our consciences are given to us for a reason. I say, rather, we must not judge hearts. That judgment is the province of God alone.

God alone can see and judge the hearts of other men. Jesus knew what they were thinking because Jesus is God become man. Jesus saw that the scribes in their hearts were accusing Jesus of blasphemy.

Think on that. To accuse God of blasphemy. That right there is blasphemy. There really were blasphemers in Capernaum (4:13, 9:1), but Jesus was not the blasphemer, the scribes were the blasphemers.

We commit this sin ourselves sometimes when, in our hearts, we despair of God’s goodness. We’re tempted to this despair by the things we suffer. And even more so if we think we know our own sufferings are worse or less just than those of others. Comparison to others will goad us to despair.

We suffer terrible things, it is true. Furthermore, it is true that God had and has the power to deliver us from all suffering. And it is true that, despite this, we continue to suffer.

However, it is our great hope that, in Christ Jesus and in his resurrection, we will, through suffering in Christ Jesus on his cross, enter into eternal life where there is no pain, sorrow, nor mourning. In Jesus Christ, suffering becomes the way to joy, peace, and life.

But with suffering also comes temptation. Everyone who suffers is tempted. Even Jesus is tempted. The temptation is to flee rather than embrace our cross, which is our suffering, whatever that may be in each of our personal lives – sickness, injustice, poverty.

Whatever we suffer, we do not know what others suffer. As the great spiritual says, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.” We know our own suffering. We see and hear of others’ suffering and we suffer with them because we love them. That’s what it means to be compassionate – to “suffer with.”

Be compassionate and do not fall into the temptation regarding the sufferings of others as less than your own sufferings. That’s another judgment we are not fit to make. It is Jesus who knows. God knows. He is the truly compassionate one who truly knows and embraces our passion in his passion.  

We must not try to compare ourselves with others. This comparison, because we cannot see into the hearts of others like Jesus can, only serves to increase our own suffering and diminish our compassion for others. It is utterly useless. Abandon it readily as soon as the temptation to compare appears.

God alone sees and knows everything, even everything that we hide within our hearts. The mysteries we ponder there, the sinful thoughts we think, the doubts, and the faith. He is there with us through all of that.

He is with the really real you. The you that you show no one else. The you that is stripped of all its masks. The you that you would never bring to church. As well as the you that is so self-sacrificial, loving, and noble, that, if others saw it, they would tremble in awe in your presence. But others do not see. God alone sees your heart. Remember that nothing but nothing is hidden from him.

He is with you. Now and always and forever and unto the ages of ages. He. Is. With. You.

It does not matter what I think of you. It does not matter what your fellow parishioners think of you. It does not matter what your friends and family think of you. Whether we think you’re a saint or a wretch. It is God who knows your heart.

Jesus knows what we’re thinking, so let us be faithful to him.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

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Fr. John R.P. Russell is a husband, a father of four, and a priest for the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Parma. He is the administrator of St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Church in Allen Park, Michigan. He is also a lifelong painter, particularly influenced by abstract expressionism and iconography. He has an M.Div. from the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and a B.A. in art with a minor in religion from Wabash College. He has been blogging since 2007: Blog of the Dormition

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