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Seeds of the Kingdom

It’s Not What It Looks Like

by John Berry

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7, NIV

I heard of a young man recently who was very excited at the prospect of attending his school ‘Leavers Ball’. I wondered what he would wear, remembering the formal dress code of my school days. I saw a picture of this young man in his finery: A decorated top hat, black long shirt and short leather studded jacket with black fingerless gloves, tartan red trousers with chains adorning them and ‘interesting’ footwear! His mother’s comment was “he looked amazing!” - Which means ‘very good’. My first impression was – “that’s different”. But actually this young man was expressing who he was, without the need to conform to the expectations of others, and yet not being offensive in any way.

I was reminded of the words of God to Samuel in connection with the anointing of David. David’s older brothers were to parade in front of Samuel, who acted out of convention, and thought that the eldest son must be the chosen one. However God said ‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Our preconceptions are not God’s conceptions necessarily, and what seems the right thing for us humanly can be overridden by God’s plan and purposes.

All of us in positions of responsibility within the Kingdom need to remember this. We can so easily get caught up in the image, how we present ourselves to others and the outer trappings, that we can neglect our hearts and how we are inside, before God. We must make sure we’re not hiding ourselves behind what we look like.

I’m sure that God doesn’t mind whether we’re wearing top hats or tutus (in the right context of course!), so long as our inner attitude is right. However the Bible does encourage us to be orderly; and not to adorn ourselves in inappropriate ways. I’m sure God isn’t happy when our dress code is driven by the desire to control, or allure, or rebel against those we should be respecting.

My young friend will no doubt one day look back and say “did I really wear that?”, and perhaps he will hear God say “yes you did, and I liked it, because I love who you are”.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for accepting me for who I am, even though you know the intimate details of my heart, and thank you for not judging solely on the external appearance. Help me to value others in the same way, and not to allow my particular preferences or prejudices to get in the way of accepting others for who they are. Amen.

John Berry entered the Baptist Ministry more than 40 years ago, and joined the Team at Ellel Glyndley Manor in 2007 with his wife Jennie. They have both now retired from the team but remain as part of the Teaching and Associate Ministry Teams at Glyndley. John and Jennie have seven Grandchildren.


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