As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.
Some, like Forrest Gump, would reduce a person to his or her actions. Others might reduce a person to his or her motives, “Well she meant well,” someone might say. Still others might reduce a person to words, “But you said…………..” What all of these have in common is their reductionism. Reductionism is taking something to be the whole when it is only a part. The Bible will have nothing to do with such a truncated view of things.
Of course, the Bible is concerned with all of these: actions, thoughts and words. But most profoundly the Bible is concerned about the wellspring from which all these come—the heart. Action, speech, and thought all matter, but there is something much deeper than any one of these or even all of them in combination. The heart is the center of a person’s being. The heart activates that which people do, that which they say, and that which they think. It is the heart that reflects the man. It is the heart that sums him up.
Now, the writer of Proverbs says that the heart reflects the man in a way similar to the way that water reflects a person’s face. I hope that I am not reading too much into this, but here you go. When one looks at a reflection of a face in water, one can make out one’s own general features, or that of another person’s. Water, indeed, does reflect, but not perfectly, not crisply, not clearly, certainly not infallibly.
Thus, I want to suggest that the best that we can do in this world is arrive at some approximation of the character of another person and the condition of his or her heart. This is a reason to be careful not to rush to judgment; if ever there were one. Even more humbling, perhaps, is that I think this means that you and I can only come to something of an approximation, a watery view, if you will, of our own hearts. They are deceitful above all things, after all (Jeremiah 17:9).
So, where does this leave us? It leaves us before the gaze of the One who sees—the One who knows our hearts absolutely, completely, and infallibly. We see all things as through a glass darkly, but he sees us with piercing light. Ask him, therefore, to reveal to you as clearly as you are able to comprehend the character of your heart. Ask him to make known to you your sin, not that you might wallow in it, but rather that you might confess it, repent of it, and know the joy of a heart made pure (Matthew 5:8).
One other thought: how does one get to know one’s own heart better? John Calvin, in the first chapter of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, says that there is a kind of symbiotic relationship between knowing God and knowing self. Do you want to know yourself better? Do you want to see your heart more clearly? Take your gaze off of self and fix it on him. You will find that the clarity of your perception of your own heart and of his heart for you will become ever more clear.