"But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
This is a much rehashed theme, but this text is so much a part of my psyche today that I had to write about...AGAIN! In the text above, God commissioned Samuel to go to the house of Jesse to find the replacement king of Israel (because, frankly, Saul was messing up!). As Jesse brought his sons forth, one by one by one, Samuel would look at them and think, "Wow, he's tall - he must be the new king - he has a kingly stature"; or "And this one, look at that smile - he would be a good diplomat". Over and over again, Samuel would look on the outward appearance of Jesse's sons and deem them "appropriate" for the job. BUT God had a different plan and way of looking at Jesse's sons. He was looking at their hearts, their motives and motivations.
I wish I had the ability to look at people's true hearts and characters as I interacted with them...and sometimes, I wish people could do the same for me. To know that, generally, I want the best for people and mean no harm. A remark, given in love and kindness, shouldn't be the start of an argument or friction. But sometimes that is what happens. Because I am NOT God, I don't know what trials, tribulations, struggles a person may be hiding behind a smile or professional demeanor. I cannot tell by looking at someone if they had an argument with their spouse before leaving the house that morning - or if the baby threw up on them as they were walking out the door - or if they missed their morning devotion and gave the enemy a way in...I don't know all these things - just as, by looking at me, they don't know any of these things about me.
I think we sinful, selfish, soul-scarred, battle weary humans are sometimes overly sensitive to words said and the tones in which they are said - sensitive to body language - sensitive to everything. I had a situation this morning with a co-worker that just blew out of control because I believe both of us were coming from a position of defense instead of compromise. She didn't know what I'd already been through this morning - just as I didn't know what she was going through - and in anger, we both lashed out at each other. Luckily, eventually, calmer heads prevailed and I hope we both walked away with a better understanding of the situation and with our working relationship and personal friendship intact.
Smiling faces often cover a multitude of wounds. Just because someone appears to be standing strong doesn't mean that, in reality, they are barely standing at all. Let's all strive to be more compassionate with each other. One of the prayers I strive to pray every morning is: "Dear Lord, thank you for the forgiveness of my sins and for the gift of salvation at Calvary. Help me as I interact with my friends and co-workers today to remember that they also are Your Children and are forgiven sinners just as I am. Help me to be as patient with them as You are with me." That's my prayer. I ain't always successful - but I'm trying.
As the Sabbath hours approach (AMEN! HALLELUJAH!), I pray that you are blessed. I pray that you find some time to rest, relax, release...and I pray that as you interact with the saints at church, you will remember that the pretty dress, the beautiful suit, the smoking shoes may all just be a front - that person may just barely be making it through - pray for them and be patient.