“Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed.” Psalm 17:3”
God understands intent. When we deal with imperfect people in an imperfect world, we judge by actions. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we assume that their intent is to harm us. Anger can easily begin to well up because of the perceived offense. In reality, their intent was probably innocent. They may not have seen another car in the lane. Perhaps they’ve just found out a loved one was in an accident, their only intent to get to them as quickly as possible. Whatever their intent, it wasn’t to harm someone else. For whatever reason, they accidently cut off another car, unintentionally. God understands the intent of the offensive driver. He looks at their heart, not just their actions.
God looks at our hearts. He knows when we accidentally say the wrong thing to someone. He knows we weren’t trying to offend them, yet we did. For example, congratulating someone on their pregnancy only to find out they aren’t pregnant, is a mistake you only make once. The intent was never to offend the person, it was the exact opposite. But they inevitably are offended. Intent is overlooked when we’re offended. Understanding intent can help us let go of the offense.
Understanding intent can help us let go of the offense.
I grew up with brothers. I would look for ways to get them in trouble with our parents. Anything they did, I would interpret through the lens of offense. When my brothers invited me to play baseball with them, I didn’t trust their intent. If I got hit with a baseball, I assumed it was intentional. I can hear my mother’s voice telling me, “They didn’t intend to hurt you, they’re just playing a game.” They were just boys being boys. And I was a girl who didn’t understand their intent. My Mom taught me about intent because of my brothers. God wants us to look at intent. He wants us to look at the heart, not just the actions. The heart is where we find what a person’s true intent is.
David is appealing to God in Psalm 17. Whatever fire David is going through in this Psalm, he’s asking God to check his heart. He wants God to know his intent was not to harm. In the same way, whether we have been offended, or we’re the offender, the first place to go is God. Let Him examine the situation, let Him reveal the intent of the involved parties. Let Him be the judge. When we stop overlooking intent, we’ll have a better view of reality. We’ll find freedom from unintended offense.
Question of the Day:
Whose intent have you misjudged lately?
Further Reading:Genesis 39:1-41:16 NIV, Matthew 12:46-13:23 NIV, Psalm 17:1-15 NIV, Proverbs 3:33-35 NIV