“…the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” 1
Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
Have you ever noticed that we tend to judge others based on their behaviour, and ourselves based on our intent? I know I certainly do. My own experience definitely reflects how quickly I can attribute something someone does to the intent that fits my view of the world. For example, I cut up the side of a queue of traffic and nip in near the front because I’m late for church and I need to get there on time. Someone else does it because they are rude and have no consideration for the rest of us in the queue…it’s easily done!
I’m much more forgiving of friends and colleagues I get on with…willing to give them the time and space to explain why they did what they did, before I guess at the reasons and react accordingly. But it’s so easy to look at people we are not so friendly with, or even don’t know at all and be judgemental: “This woman is a single mother because…”, “That person begging on the streets should go and get a job”, “This teenager taking drugs needs locking up”. Before we know it we can be full of condemnation without knowing all the facts.
Thankfully God looks on the heart, or intent, of all people and not just on the outward things of life; which is just as well considering some of the things I’ve done. When Jesus came as the perfect representation of God (Hebrews 1:3) he displayed “grace upon grace” (John 1:16 ESV) in all his relationships. These seem like good (godly) approaches to me. So let me encourage you. When you find yourself becoming judgemental, or you are attributing to a person “motives meaner than your own” (to quote J.M. Barry), ask yourself these questions:
Am I just looking on the outward appearance or on the person’s heart?; and Am I showing grace upon grace to this person?
What might happen to our attitude and our relationships if we applied these two principles? Why not give it a go and find out.
Father, thank you that you are a God of grace who sees beyond our faults and looks into our hearts. May we reflect this in all of our relationships.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Meeting time: Saturday 11 am Local Congregational Contact: Barry Robinson Email: email@example.com