“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10 MEV
Technically I didn’t have to meditate on this passage: It was the “verse of the day” at YouVersion — whereas the passage I meditate on for my lectio divina is one from my daily Bible reading plan (right now I am using the Jesus Speaks plan).
But when I read this, I wanted to get a feel for it because, as you may know if you’ve been with me long, I don’t believe in rewards and punishment anymore when it comes to God; I believe in grace.
What then are we to make of this passage which indicates we get the fruit of our deeds and thoughts? That’s what I asked Jesus! And here is the answer which came to me during my meditation …
The Holy Spirit tests minds and searches hearts to give everyone fruit — the fruit of their deeds and thoughts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean punishment for evil thoughts and deeds. Rather it could be He is testing and searching for the exact right kind of fruit that will entice us toward Him, enhance our spiritual walk, and bring us into His path.
This isn’t to deny the natural consequences of destructive thoughts or deeds; I have certainly experienced those in my own life. But I don’t chalk those up to God; I chalk those up to “the system,” the world, as John the Revelator calls it, the “kosmos,” which in Greek can mean the “ordered system of governance.”
Used to we called it “an eye for an eye” and what not, but Jesus changed all that on the cross. He demolished the system and instead gave us grace: we screw everything up, and He makes everything right.
We may indeed look at this passage as the Old Testament prophet’s understanding of how God works, searching hearts and minds to pay everyone according to their deeds, but Jesus actually reveals more closely how God works: He pays everyone generously at His own expense, no matter how much or how little we worked. The work is incidental to His generosity.
Thus if we want a grace-filled explanation of this passage, mine will do. The Spirit searches our hearts and tests our minds to decide on the fruit that will most likely entice us to taste and see that the Lord is good.