“Judging from the cover…”

Posted: January 23, 2012 in "Around the Table" Discussion Topic/Marketplace Devo

“Judging from the cover…”

1 Samuel 16:6-7

There was a story that came out in the late nineties about how Stanford University was founded. The account of the story was that Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University, in order to speak to university’s president about erecting a building in honor of their son who attended Harvard but died unexpectedly. Apparently, the president of the university responded rather gruffly to the shabbily dressed ‘country hicks’ and asked if they had any idea how much it costs to build a building. He told them he had over seven and a half million dollars in the physical structures on the campus. Mrs. Stanford looked at her husband and commented that if that was all it cost to start a university they should start their own. Her comment left the Harvard president speechless and the Stanfords went back to California and started Stanford University. While this rendition of the origin of Stanford University is absolutely false, the underlying moral of the story and premise of “never judging someone by mere appearance” couldn’t be truer.

Every day, in the business marketplace…in schools…in our neighborhoods…in churches…people are judged based on their appearance. Of course, I am not speaking only of those who are looked down upon because they don’t quite meet a certain dress code or look. An attractive outer appearance has a similar impact but in the opposite way. How we present ourselves is very important. However, our outward appearance is not the determinant of who we are…and certainly is not what God looks at. A perfect example is the Lord’s appointment and rejection of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 9, 15) and anointing of young David as the future king (1 Samuel 16). “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).

Challenge: I started at an early age to live by the creed “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” And appearance is a major factor in the impressions, both first and ongoing, that we make. However, one’s outer appearance doesn’t always reveal the “real” person. I have been guilty, more than I would like to admit, of judging someone based on appearance, both positively and negatively. I looked at them through my own filter and not God’s. And it’s interesting…and humbling…how God convicted me when I did…and how still He convicts me when I do.

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to form opinions and impressions based on appearance. In today’s world, appearance has become so important and a condition of acceptance…of promotion. Lord, despite of what we look like to others and see others as, You know our heart and the people we are…and likely the people we want to be. Lord, give me the courage to look beyond the appearance to reach others and love them as You did…and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.           

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