My amazingly talented friend Ramon Presson (author, speaker, marriage and family counselor) asked me to submit a devotional for his new collection "However: the Great BUT's of the Bible," and I'm sharing it here with you. To read his other entries, swing by his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ramonpresson
However: The Great BUTs of the Bible
“…for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)
Have you ever purchased a candy bar, carefully taken the wrapper off, and then discarded the candy so you could enjoy the beauty of the wrapper? If you’ve done this, I’ve got news for you: you’re weird. But I’m pretty sure you haven’t.
I’m quite certain you’ve never done this because we all know better. We know the candy is the best part, and we know that pretty paper and shiny foil are destined for the trash.
I sure wish we could use this same wisdom when it comes to how we judge one another. God wishes we would, too.
In I Samuel 16, God gives it to us pretty straight. He sends His prophet Samuel on a search for a new king for Israel. Samuel sets about looking for the right guy amongst the sons of Jesse, assuming he will surely be the most handsome of the bunch. And just when he thinks he’s found the one, God intervenes. This is what He says to Samuel:
"Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (v. 7)
Samuel has picked out the tall, ripped, most strapping son of Jesse, and God refuses him. A quick look at the Hebrew definition of the word refuse takes it up a notch. The synonyms found include abhor, spurn, cast away, disdain, despise. This is not a casual brushing aside.
God doesn’t see what people see. He doesn’t choose what we choose. He’s not into picking leaders based on easily seen physical characteristics. In fact, from this portion of scripture, we could say God utterly despises judging people this way.
And I’ve got a couple of ideas why.
First, the Creator of Heaven and earth knows that the physical part of us is the only part that is going to turn to dust. He knows it’s just the wrapper (destined for the trash), and He knows that the heart inside is the best part. It’s the part He loves. It’s the part that will remain.
Second, I believe God despises a value system based upon outward appearances because He doesn’t want to be judged that way. I believe it grieves Him deeply when people judge Him for what they see on the surface level of life. He gets blamed for every evil. He gets blamed for death. He takes the blame for many things because people only glance quickly at the surface rather than diligently searching for…His heart.
God wants His children to know Him. And He wants us to know how to truly live. To live, we must believe that our battle is not of the flesh. Our victory is not of the flesh. Our security will not be found in the flesh. And our beauty is not of the flesh.
“God’s definition of beauty has far more to do with what’s going on inside of us than what’s skin-deep. In fact, a search of the Bible will reveal no mention of body mass index, no mention of normal weight charts, no mention of point values for foods. Not only that, almost any time the word fat is mentioned, it’s used as a good thing—representing blessing.” (My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving my Life, Teasi Cannon)
Truth is…this world is not our home, and its definitions are not our definitions. We simply must choose which side we’re on.
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