Is it just me? Or is there an increasing stress these days on what someone looks like in their outward appearance? Many programmes on TV seem to be more or less entirely based around the appearance of the contestants. And they’re incredibly popular. But social media often takes it to a whole different level, where outward appearance dominates every aspect of the lives portrayed.
Alongside this, it isn’t the least surprising then to hear that the mental health of so many young people is damaged through their avid, perhaps we might say addictive, interactions with such sites. And it isn’t just young people! I well remember hearing a preacher friend making the profound statement that ‘comparison kills joy’. How true that can be – for all of us!
Yet, with so much obsessive attention on the way things look on the outside, how fascinating then that, when God was looking for a new king of Israel to replace the rejected King Saul, He didn’t choose that replacement based on mere externals! Interestingly, even Samuel, the ‘king maker’, seemed to be more swayed by external appearance than looking deeper into what truly seemed to count in God’s eyes. As he reviewed the sons of Jesse in search of God’s next in line, his assessment of David’s brother Eliab was very similar to that he made of Saul (compare 1 Samuel 10:23-24 with 1 Samuel 16:6-7). The expression, ‘the bigger the better’, comes to mind.
But God’s interest wasn’t in such a superficial measure. You and I may, or may not, feel up to the mark when it comes to the externals of life. How often we may feel judged or passed over or unseen because of what we perceive as our weaknesses or lack of ‘spangle’ or less-than-obvious splendour. But that really seems to be of little concern to what our Creator God thinks of us and the plans He has for us. What He is far more concerned with is the condition of our hearts, that inner place that He alone sees.
Indeed, when it came to the one whom God would choose above all others, we read: ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not’ (Isaiah 53:2b-3).
We can be assured by the reality that the LORD does not look at the things human beings too easily look at and get distracted or mesmerised by. Human beings, in our limitations and superficialities, so often look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. May we let this truth sink deeply into our inner beings that we may draw strength and courage to live in this world today!
Prayer: Dear Father, thank You that You don’t see us as we often see ourselves, nor do You value the things that humans value above all others. Thank You that You see our hearts. Help us, Lord, not to measure value – either other people’s or our own - in worldly ways, but to seek you with all our hearts and see ourselves through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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