“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7b
Like I said on Friday, I spent last week helping to lead a group of 6th graders at VBS, and we were going through the book of Daniel when verse 3 caught our attention.
The point about Daniel’s excellent spirit led to a great discussion in our group about what believers should be characterized by and how we need to focus on what matters (the inside) instead of being overly concentrated on the outside. While we were talking about this, I recalled that Jesus had talked about this when conversing with the Pharisees in Matthew 23, starting in verse 25:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
The Pharisees were notorious (if you don’t believe me, look it up) for going around, seeking the praise of men…several times in the Gospels, they are described as wanting the best seats, wanting people to hear all the money they put in the offerings, etc. Yet, on the inside, they were full of unrighteousness.
Another passage I thought of was 1 Peter 3:3-4, which says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
A lot of times (and I’ve been guilty of this too), I see guys and girls focusing so much on the outward appearance (what they’re wearing, working out, etc.) that they neglect to concentrate on what really matters…character. Don’t get me wrong– trying to look good isn’t wrong at all. The point is that we need to not only keep our desire for that in check, but we must spend time developing what really matters.
A gentle and quiet spirit is very precious to God, and that makes sense because He says in 1 Samuel 16 that man looks at the outward appearance, but that the Lord looks at the heart.
Don’t be like the Pharisees who were able to put on a great show on the outside but were sorely lacking on the inside…keep character as the priority!