You Are Not Swayed by Appearances

As I continue reading and praying with the book of Mark, I am struck by what the Pharisees have to say about Jesus:

“For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” Mark 12:14b

It hurts my heart to think how often I (and probably you) are influenced by how people and things look on the outside. How easy it is to judge the homeless man who looks disheveled and dirty, or even the friend who is overweight. How quickly I am impressed by somebody’s beautiful home or adorably dressed grandchildren. This is wrong. I don’t and can’t know anyone else’s full story. The one person who does is God, and the Bible tells us in the book of Romans:

 God does not play favorites.” Romans 12:11

We can’t impress God with how we look, or what we have. What is in our heart is much more important. When Samuel was about to anoint a new king for the Hebrew people, God rebukes him for assuming that Eliab, one of Jesse’s older sons was the best choice :

“… Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

In truth, God’s choice often confounds us:

” … God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Jesus Himself said:

“I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:32

Regardless of how good we seem to be superficially, we’re sinners (No One is Good Except God Alone). We’re all lucky to have a high priest who looks into our hearts and has compassion on our failings ( Our High Priest). If we’re His followers, we should do likewise. Be quick to love and slow to judge. Don’t be swayed by appearances.

Agree In the Lord, Example #1

Years ago, before my husband was a Pastor, I was elected to the Church Council as recording secretary.  After I read my first meeting minutes, our Pastor started to make a comment ….then he chuckled and said, “never mind, Joan, I’ll talk to you about the minutes later.”

I was embarrassed and upset.  Something was obviously wrong with the way I recorded the meeting, and he had let everyone else know it.  I went to him later and said, “You might as well have just gone ahead and criticized me there.  Why didn’t you just finish telling me what I did wrong?”

His answer?  “I started to say your minutes were the best we had ever had, but I caught myself, realizing how rude and ungrateful that would sound to the members who had done it before.”  As you can imagine, that deflated my anger in a second.  Now I was embarrassed to realize how quickly I had jumped to the wrong conclusion.

My point?  We can’t assume we know what someone else is thinking, or what their actions really mean.  If you’re in doubt, do as the Bible says, go to that person and ask.  You may find out you misjudged them, or you may be giving them an opportunity to apologize.  Either way, you’ve saved your relationship and you can continue to “agree in the Lord.”

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