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Looking at the Heart

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-7

And he (Samuel) performed the purification rite on Jesse and his sons, and invited them too. When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, "Surely this is the man the Lord has chosen!"

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by a man's face or height, for this is not the one. I don't make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at a man's thoughts and intentions."

1 Samuel 16: 5b-7 (TLB)

Wayne Greenawalt, from Illinois, drove to the school where his wife teaches kindergarten to deliver a package. He opened her classroom door only to find she had stepped out. As he stood in the doorway, one of the students asked, "Who are you?" Wayne's response was, "Who do you think I am?" When a student replied, "You're her father," Wayne said, "No." Then another student called out, "You're her grandfather!" Abruptly, Wayne responded, "I'm her husband!" The students looked bewildered. Apparently, to kindergartners anyone with gray hair is an oldster! Appearances can be misleading.

This was Samuel's experience when the Lord sent him to Bethlehem to anoint the next king of Israel. When Samuel met Jesse's firstborn son, Eliab, Samuel thought, based on Eliab's appearance, Surely, the Lord's anointed stands before me. But the Lord rejected Eliab. Then God warned Samuel about judging people by appearance alone: "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Appearance alone does not reveal an individual's true self. God values the characteristics of integrity, faith, and dependability above a pleasing persona, and we should do the same in assessing the character of others.

Prayer: O Lord, help us not to judge others by appearance alone but strive to discern their inner qualities, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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