Today’s bible study is 1 Samuel 16:7 For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
This challenging biblical verse from the King James Bible might be better understood in a newer translation where it is read as: For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
We, fallible humans that we are, generally see things in material form and describe them as they look to us. In describing my home, I might use words like brick, two story, columned porch, black front door and wind chimes. These are all true, and any of us would use similar means to describe our homes.
If the police ever ask us for a description of a person, we remember things like age, height, approximate weight, hair and eye color, clothing and features such as glasses or tattoos. This is not wrong, and often serves a very valuable purpose. It may help to apprehend a criminal, help someone find an address, or any of the myriad reasons we use physical and material descriptions every day.
How often have you said something like, ‘the lady with the red blouse?’ or, where’s the blue backpack with his MP3 player in it?’ We do it all the time. Asked to describe a church, we might use words like large, beautiful, overwhelming, majestic or steepled.
But what is the Lord seeing in us? Is He seeing you as a tall woman with greenish eyes wearing jeans? Probably not. He is seeing you as the faulty Christian that we all are. He is seeing you as the mother who loves her children, the wife who is faithful to her husband, the neighbor who tries to reach out with welcome, and the hard-working person who is too often tired and frustrated, lonely and frightened, worried and anxious.
God see us not in a material way but in a spiritual way, He knows the secrets of our hearts, understands that we are all weak and faulty and fallible, and loves us as His own. He sees the goodness within us waiting to be poured forth, the mercy in us waiting to be granted, the kindness within us to be spread and the many gifts within us just waiting to be given. He sees all our qualities of goodness and greatness, and also our weaknesses and shortcomings. And, in his love as our father, he loves us unconditionally
And, like a loving father, God encourages us to use our gifts to live the best lives we can, following the teachings of His holy word. He wants us to let Him see His light within us, radiating through us, and brightening all that we come in contact with. God wants us to pray that we make the right choices, ask for strength when we falter, and give thanks when we celebrate.
Our new trendy clothing may make us feel beautiful on the outside. Only the Holy Spirit can make us beautiful on the inside. And, when we come right down to it, which beauty is more important, more Christian, and more eternal? The answer is clear.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur and Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor
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