We live in such an image-driven world. The fashion industry, cosmetic industry, health and fitness industries – the list goes on and on – all constantly pull and tug on us for time and attention. I find myself spending inordinate amounts of time choosing what to wear and fixing my hair and makeup every day. I glance in the mirror and critique my wrinkles and blemishes. I try to suck in my belly and make myself look more trim. I can be consumed with my physical appearance.
I’m not going to pick on myself – or others – too much for that though. It’s not a horrible thing to take care of yourself and put effort into appearance. What’s sad, at least to me, is that I cannot even pretend to you that I put even a fraction of the thought into my “heart’s appearance” as I do the physical. I pray. I read devotions. I ponder and meditate on the Word of God.
But not enough. Not all through the day. Or maybe not even every day. Certainly not with the same consistency that I spend making my face and hair presentable every morning.
I Samuel 16:7 isn’t necessarily about vanity, or even about individual spirituality. In this part of the story, God has instructed Samuel to anoint the new king. Samuel is looking at the different sons of Jesse, evaluating them for “kingliness” based on their appearance. He gets a strong message in response.
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It’s a pretty clear reminder to us. To me. Not just about how I perceive and consider others – although this is a strong rebuke to me personally about making any kind of judgment about someone based on appearance alone – but about how the Lord sees me. He sees my heart. He knows it, inside and out. There are many actions of faith and obedience that are important and necessary in a Christian’s life, but first and foremost we need to guard, cultivate and protect our hearts. Mind can be awfully full of some ugly things – doubt, bitterness, hatred, stress, envy, etc. God sees that. He knows it’s there.
What an amazing thing it is to know that despite that, He still sent Jesus to the cross with our sins. We are already forgiven. He knows our hearts, and still promises forgiveness.
David wasn’t perfect. He was chosen by God, loved by God, yet still a sinner. Reading the Psalms though, David goes to God in humility, in praise, in love. He goes to God confessing his sins, admitting his wrongs, and then praising God for his faithfulness. Let’s let this be the example for how to let God see our hearts.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings…Psalm 17:6-8