walk in the word
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “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 16:6–7, esv).
God doesn’t see the same way people see.
We form all kinds of assessments about others—and all kinds of assessments about ourselves—based on how we look. Fat. Thin. Strong. Wimpy. Rich. Shabby. Cool. Nerdy.
We are far too prone to make judgments based on what we see. And because of it, we miss what we could be seeing: what God sees.
“If you want to align your life with God, start focusing on the heart.”
Because what God sees is all that matters.
When He instructed Samuel—spiritual leader of Israel—to go anoint a new king from among the sons of a man named Jesse in Bethlehem, the logical process seemed pretty simple: just parade them past Samuel in order of age, from oldest to youngest. In fact, if historical precedent was any indicator, Samuel could have guessed without looking that the Lord would surely tell him to select the firstborn as His choice for king. Especially a young man who gave off the striking impression of this one—Eliab, Jesse’s oldest.
But that’s not what God thinks when he looks at us. He doesn’t look at a man in the pulpit wearing a three-piece suit and say, “Now there’s a pastor.” He doesn’t look at a person who’s brimming with natural ability and say, “Now there’s somebody who can do great things.” “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
An attraction to “tall, dark, and handsome” is what had gotten Israel stuck with King Saul—a guy who looked the part on the outside but was immensely insecure on the inside. His reign went up like a rocket and came down like a rock. He didn’t have the character underneath that compelling exterior to support the weight of his position. He didn’t have the heart of, say, the youngest son of Jesse—the one who didn’t even get invited to the king’s parade—the kid who was out in the fields, doing the slave-labor job of a shepherd. The least likely. The least expected. The most ordinary. The most forgotten. Yet God said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22).
See the difference?
The people you choose as your role models, the people whose lead you follow, the people whose awesome abilities and personalities make you feel so incapable by comparison . . .
The person you see in your mirror today who looks so bad to you, so inferior, so unworthy—or perhaps looks so good to you, so much sharper and more attractive than other people you know . . .
What baseline are you using to make those judgments?
If you want to align your life with God, stop zeroing in on what you and everybody else looks like, and start focusing instead on the heart—what your heart is like, what their heart is like.
The Lord picked a shepherd boy to be king, because nobody would’ve seen that coming. Because “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27, nasb), so we won’t boast in what we can do, but only in what God can do . . . through a heart that’s fully His.
Father, thank You for making so clear in Your Word what You are looking for in Your people—and for making it something You can accomplish in me, even with all my flaws and limitations. Forgive me, Lord, for wasting my time trying to impress, especially when I’m painting a picture of myself that’s not fully authentic. Forgive me, too, for putting people on pedestals—as well as for putting them on scrap heaps—based almost entirely on the external image they present. Help me no longer confuse importance with appearance—mine or anyone else’s—but rather to love what You love: a heart that’s surrendered to You. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
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