There were two small tangerines in our fruit bowl yesterday. One was starting to look its age; its bright orange skin was starting to wrinkle at the top and it looked dry. The other tangerine was shiny and plump. I decided to eat the old one and struggled to remove the skin, which didn’t hold together well. When I finally got inside it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the flesh was lovely. It was juicy and tasty. As it was rather a small fruit, I decided to eat the shiny one too. The skin peeled off this one beautifully, but I was disappointed to see that, under the perfect skin, the fruit was totally dried up.
The contrast between its attractive appearance and its dried up, shrivelled interior reminded me of today’s verse. We look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart. I won’t ask you whether you judge people on their outward appearance, because I know the answer. We all do. God says it is something that all mankind does. Why is that? I suppose the reason is obvious. It’s because, unlike God, we are not able to see beyond the surface. The only information we have to go on is the outward appearance, so we use that.
However perhaps, at some stage in our life, we have all had the experience of discovering that appearances can be deceptive. You may have trusted someone, only to find that they were untrustworthy. You may have admired someone, only to be disappointed in them later. Equally, you may have dismissed someone because of external factors, only to discover later what a wonderful person they are.
I’m sure you will be able to think of examples in your own life, of where trusting in first impressions and appearances has let you down. We can even be swayed by how physically attractive someone is. But as the saying goes, “beauty is only skin deep”. And like my tangerines, the wrinkled old person may have more to offer than the shiny young-looking person!
Can I invite you to stop for a moment and ask the Lord Jesus if there is something He wants to say to you personally about this? Is there a decision you are making this week which is being influenced by external factors and appearances?
Prayer: Lord, please show me if I am wrongly relying on outward appearances. Please help me not to judge myself or others by external factors. Help me to hear Your guidance and trust what You say, as I wait a moment now to allow You to bring things to my mind. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
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