Mercy Street Church of Christ
Abilene, TX
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Do not judge from his appearance

Do not judge from his appearance. (1 Samuel 16:7)

You can’t judge a book by its cover. We’ve probably all heard this timeworn adage from childhood. But when Samuel was sent to Jesse’s household to anoint the next king of Israel, it was hard not to look at “the cover.” Jesse’s sons sure looked impressive! Eliab, for instance, was the oldest; he was tall and handsome—a likely candidate for king! Saul, after all, had been tall and handsome.

But God needed to remind Samuel that he looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. So when Jesse’s youngest son, David, entered, another ruddy and handsome young man who made “a splendid appearance,” Samuel wasn’t too quick to get out his flask of oil. He waited for God to tell him this was the one. Samuel had learned to listen for the Lord’s voice instead of relying on his human wit or instinct.

The Pharisees who opposed Jesus weren’t so different from Samuel in his initial reaction. They judged by outward appearances as they watched the disciples picking grain on the Sabbath. They didn’t think about the inner motivations. That’s why Jesus told them he is Lord of the Sabbath: because the Sabbath rules were made for God’s people, not the other way around. The external frameworks were meant to set boundaries and help form our hearts so that we would love and choose what is right without having to rely only on laws.

So when you deal with your kids or grandkids, or when you are put off by a new family down the street, slow down; try not to judge by appearances only. Instead, do what Samuel did. Turn and pray. Keep in mind that there is usually more going on than meets the eye. Be patient and generous with your assessments, as Samuel learned to be.

And when you find that you have made a rash judgment, don’t let yourself get weighed down with guilt. We all make mistakes! Move on, ask the Lord to give you guidance, and try again. Let the Lord of the Sabbath use the situation to further form your heart.

“Lord, I want to see things as you do. Thank you for going beyond the surface and looking at my heart!”

Psalm 89:20-22, 27-28; Mark 2:23-28

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