ROM THE TIME WE’RE CHILDREN we seem to have an innate propensity to judge others by their outward appearance. Attractive children seem to be included in all sorts of things, while obese or physically unattractive children are all too often left out. Many children even choose as their favorite teachers those who are beautiful or handsome.
Later, as we choose our life’s companion, we’re more apt to choose someone physically attractive than someone short on looks but long on compassion and personality.
Even leaders in business and politics are often chosen on the basis of their looks.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
Carolyn* was a young mother doing her part to support her small family of four in central Florida. Her husband, Jim, worked part-time as a janitor at the local hospital while attending night school at a technical college. For two years Carolyn and Jim had been trying to balance their time and their checkbook as they went to school and took care of their two small children.
Carolyn had just received her real estate license and was ready for her first customer at a large realty company that had taken her under its wings. During the first week on the job a frail-looking woman in her 60s parked her dilapidated car in the office’s parking lot and slowly ascended the steps to the office door.
One of the agents, peering out the window toward the woman, said, “Uh, Carolyn, why don’t you get this one. She looks like a real winner.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Carolyn noticed the smiles of her coworkers.
“Hey, I think we still have that mobile home out on Baker’s Road. Maybe she could afford that,” encouraged another.
Just then the woman opened the office door and slowly stepped inside.
“Welcome to New Life Realty,” beamed Carolyn. “How may I help you?” Carolyn didn’t mind selling a home to a lower-income patron. Right then, she just needed a sale, any sale, to keep food on the table.
“I’d like to look at some homes in the Sherwood Commons area,” the woman said hesitantly.
Carolyn noticed several agents behind the woman wince at her response. Sherwood Commons was an exclusive part of town, with several high-end homes.
The woman kept Carolyn busy for two days, house-shopping in Sherwood Commons. Finally the woman told Carolyn she wanted to buy three of the houses Carolyn had shown her.
It seems the woman had been a housekeeper for an elderly man who lived in Sherwood Commons for many years before he died. In his will he had bequeathed several million dollars to her. With a small portion of that gift she bought three houses, one for herself, a house next door for her sister, and a house just across the street for her best friend. All three homes were in the $500,000 range. On the sales chart back at the office, Carolyn’s three sales topped the chart for the month. In just two days Carolyn received $75,000 in commissions, more than enough to live on for the rest of the year.
Take a Second Look
This is hardly a modern problem. When God chose David to be king of Israel, the prophet Samuel was sent to the home of Jesse. As each of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel, the prophet listened eagerly for the Lord to tell him, “This is the one.” But there was only silence.
Samuel was sure Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, was the Lord’s anointed. But God passed on a bit of valuable information to Samuel, as well as to the rest of us. He said: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).†
Each of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel. Without God vision, Samuel viewed each son as a potential king. But God dismissed them all. Finally, in exasperation Samuel asked Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” (verse 11).
Even his own father had not perceived David as kingly material, for he had left him out in the fields tending sheep. Once David was summoned, he too walked before the aged prophet.
Immediately, the Lord said: “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one” (verse 12).
God saw something different as He looked at David. The all-knowing eyes of the Lord saw a powerful ally in the war against evil. He saw someone who acknowledged his own weaknesses, but also someone who acknowledged the power of God’s strength. In his weakness, David was made strong. And though God could see the pitfalls that lie in wait for this young teen, and the temptations Satan would hurl at him, God looked into the future and saw a man after His own heart.
Face it: we’re all tempted to judge those around us, just as Carolyn’s friends judged the woman who stepped into their office. With our earthly vision we look in judgment at those around us and choose our friends, our politicians, even our life companions.
We need some kind of spiritual goggles; we need God vision.
We need to look past the limitations of those we interact with daily and see them as God sees them; because He sees things differently from the way the rest of us do. The Lord looks upon the heart.
*Names and other details of this story have been changed.
†Bible texts in this article are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.
Ron Reese lives in Canton, North Carolina.