The Bible tells us that believers have God’s power to overcome the world (1 John 5:4). By overcoming the world, Christians should have different standards by which we live or treat others. For example, if the world equates outward beauty with acceptance and worth, then we should strive to see people God’s way, by looking on the inside.
Growing up, I loved to hear my grandma recall a story about how she went to a fancy dress shop one day with a pocket full of cash to purchase a new dress. She was in a hurry after working in the yard. Her hair was not styled, and she wore an old cotton dress, her typical work clothes. But she “went to town” anyway because she needed that dress.
However, she left the boutique that day with her stack of money and no dress. The fashionable ladies who worked in the shop refused to assist her. They turned up their noses at her unkempt appearance assuming she couldn’t afford to purchase their clean, crisp couture.
Her story did not end there. Having all but forgotten about her previous experience, several months later she returned to the shop. This time, however, she went to browse. She had no money to spend, and her pockets were empty. Since she was “going to town,” she set her hair, applied her bright red lipstick, and donned the nicest thing she owned: a long, brown coat with a mink collar.
The attention she received at the boutique this visit was quite different. The sales ladies fawned over her, offered her a seat, and even brought her some hot tea. Little did they know, she was broke and had no money to spend at all.
How often are we like the ladies in the boutique? How often do we assume others are not worthy because their lives are messy, unkempt, and not like ours? It’s difficult to see others outside of our own experience “glasses,” but thankfully God doesn’t operate that way.
In 1 Samuel, God sends Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel. But even Samuel, God’s prophet, falls into the trap of looking at the most attractive and strongest as the best when he sees David’s older brother, Eliab.
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 16:7)
People come and go in our lives. How many times have we discounted someone because of an unattractive appearance? A disability? Poor hygiene? An unfamiliar accent? The list could be endless. We may have missed a huge blessing from God because we avoided a person with tremendous wisdom or gifts that God meant for us to receive.
Or on the flip side, how often have we seen ourselves as unworthy because we didn’t “fit the mold?” Have you believed God could not use you, or people wouldn’t accept you in a certain ministry role based on your outward appearance or affliction? How many opportunities to do a great work for the Lord were missed because of your own perceived limitations?
I’m grateful God looks on the inside. I’m so thankful He doesn’t look at us through worldly lenses. Let us all aspire to look past the world’s standards and into the heart of each person we meet.