He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:15
You’ve probably heard the phrase “God knows your heart.” It’s found throughout the Bible, but I think one of the most fascinating instances is when Jesus uses it in Luke 16:15. While many know this phrase, few actually know the context in which it was said. The Luke 16:15 meaning will help us better understand the powerful truth that God looks at our hearts. This is a passage that followers of Jesus shouldn’t ignore.
We are going to dive into this verse and see what it really means that God knows the heart. I think it will challenge you in your life and faith.
Table of Contents
The Context Of God Knows Your Heart
When we read the Bible it’s important to understand the context of the verse we are seeking to understand. This helps us get the correct meaning, and it gives richness and depth to our reading.
We find Jesus’ words, “God knows your heart” at the end of a parable that he told called The Parable Of The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13). Jesus uses this story to point out the hypocritical ways of the religious leaders. They put on a good face, but they are broken inside.
In response to this story the Pharisees “sneered” (Luke 16:14). Literally stuck their noises up at Jesus’ teaching. They loved their money, possessions, and power and were unwilling to listen.
This leads us to the verse we are looking at, “God knows your heart.” In response to the Pharisees sneering Jesus gives them one last line.
Let’s dive into the Luke 16:15 meaning to see what it holds for us today.
The Luke 16:15 Meaning
This verse is a powerful verse that I think should challenge the way we live today. To help you better understand what Jesus is saying, I’ve broken this verse down into three sections.
You Are The Ones Who Justify Yourselves In The Eyes Of Others
Jesus is looking right at the religious leaders. The ones who just sneered at his story, and he rebuked them for their hypocrisy.
They were really good at explaining and justifying themselves to the people they lead. They reasoned that their wealth and power were a sign of God’s blessing on them, a common misinterpretation of the law in Jesus’ day.
Even the average Jews under them probably looked up to them in their “righteous” living. They had justified themselves… but they can’t trick everyone.
While they might be able to fool those around them with their over the top displays of generosity, Jesus is calling them out.
But God Knows Your Heart
While they’ve pulled the wool over other people’s eyes, they haven’t fooled God. Jesus tells them, “God knows your hearts.”
In other words, God knows what really motivates them. He knows what they are really after. He can see through their false piety and hypocrisy. He knows that their primary concern is their money and their power.
You can fool a lot of people, even yourself. But God knows the heart, and he knows exactly who they are.
What People Value Highly Is Detestable In God’s Sight
The religious leaders were consumed with money and power. That was what they valued most. What Jesus was saying to them is that it’s detestable because it was idolatry.
Idolatry is when we place something above God. Idolatry not only insults God, who is the only one worthy of such high praise, but it also robs us of our joy and keeps us from truly living. Throughout the Bible we see time and time again how much God hates idolatry because it leads to death and not life.
This again is a shot that Jesus takes at the Pharisees. He’s trying to help them see that the thing they are after, that they think they need, is actually robbing from them and hurting the people around them. Their values are wrong. They should be consumed with the kingdom of God.
Jesus follows this up with another story to illustrate his point. It’s one of my favorite parables, The Parable Of The Rich Man And Lazarus. I’ve written about it, you can read it here: The Parable Of The Rich Man And Lazarus (a powerful lesson you need to hear)
What It Means That God Knows Your Heart
We like to look at the religious leaders today and point our fingers. What idiots… How could they be so blind? Who would value money and power to that extreme?
It’s easy to point the finger. But I want to challenge you to instead hold up a mirror. Do you see this desire in your life?
The reality is today people are no different. In the western culture our possessions, our money, our status, have a hold on us. The pursuit of these temporary things have put a barrier between us and God.
Just like the Pharisees, I’ve seen in my life the ability to put on a good face. Act like I’m doing the right thing. But the reality is I’m more like them than I care to admit. And I might be able to fool others, but I can’t fool God. God knows my heart.
God knows your heart too. He knows what’s really going on inside. He knows what motivates you. And he knows what you truly desire. You can justify yourself to others, but you cannot justify yourself to God.
This passage is a mirror, a challenge, for us to examine our lives and our desires. The Luke 16:15 meaning is an invitation to center our lives around things that truly matter and not the desires of the moment that leave us wanting more.
So, take a few minutes to hold up the mirror. What do you desire? What do you truly, honestly, want? God is inviting you into something meaningful. But to get it you will have to let go of the lesser things the world is offering.
Thank you for reading this blog post! I hope it helped you know what it means that God knows your heart. If it did would you share it with a friend?
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