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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS: Get to know the heart of people

Rev. Sherry Mahar, Rome First and Delta UMC
Posted 5/20/23

Early this morning the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing. Looking out of the window, it seemed like a beautiful, warm day.

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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS: Get to know the heart of people

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Early this morning the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing. Looking out of the window, it seemed like a beautiful, warm day.

Well, it was beautiful — but it definitely wasn’t warm! Without checking, based on what I just saw through the window, I headed out without a coat. It was freezing, and I was shivering in the sunshine! Things were not as they appeared, and I paid a price for jumping to assumptions. 

That can happen a lot in life if we aren’t careful. We can make a judgment by outer appearances, believing that what we are seeing is the entire picture, giving us the full story. Perhaps we decide a vehicle is great because it’s shiny and clean, but it’s missing an engine. Whereas, I’ve had an ugly clunker of a car before, yet it ran well and did the job. Maybe, based on outer appearances, we determine whether some food will be tasty or not. I confess to sometimes looking at some food and believing I would not like it, only to find out that it was actually very good, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, people can sometimes do this with other people, judging from appearances who they believe that person is. Whether someone is attractive, the strongest, most handsome, best-dressed, wealthiest, etc. is too often the barometer of someone’s value, when God tells us that none of that is what’s important.

In the Bible, in 1 Samuel 16, God had sent the prophet Samuel to anoint the next king from one of Jesse’s sons. In typical human response, Samuel began to determine who he thought God had chosen, based on outward appearances. The oldest, or the tallest, would certainly be the one, he believed. But God told Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height. … The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God looks at the heart of people, knowing who people truly are from the inside out. It’s the condition of our hearts that truly matters.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 that “by their fruit you will know them.” Our heart determines our actions, and our actions reflect our heart, and all of that impacts the world in either a positive or negative way. Through God, our heart grows to be what God desires. Through experience and relationship, we can come to know the heart of others. Consider, instead of outer appearance, whether we, and others, are living the “fruit of the Spirit”— love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — lived out by how others are treated.

We pay a price for jumping to assumptions about people, for judging people and determining someone’s value based upon outer appearance. It harms others, and ourselves, and definitely grieves the heart of God.

God desires that we get to know the heart of people, and not make judgments based on appearance or preconceived ideas. We remember, that all people are made in God’s image, all of sacred worth, and it doesn’t matter the appearance, God loves everyone. That’s God’s heart. 

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