Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting To the Heart of the Matter

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 man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:7

Have you ever been driving through a neighborhood and seen one of those "Yard of the Month" signs posted at one of the houses?  The winner is typically picked by the Homeowners Association, the neighbors, or a combination of both.  They usually have certain criteria that they look for in their perspective winner:
  • yard cut and manicured properly
  • trees and hedges trimmed and cut
  • flowerbeds free from weeds
  • attractive painting and landscaping
  • free from trash and other debris
I put the phrase, "criteria for determining the yard of the month" in my search engine and found a common trait in many of the criteria lists.  The judging was restricted to lawns in front of the house and along the side of the house.  The back yard was not included.  This means that your front yard could look like this:

And your back yard could look like this:

and you could still win the yard of the month.  The opposite side of the yard of the month award is the "You Need To Do Something About Your Ugly Yard" letter.  This is the letter that you receive when your front yard looks like second picture and the beloved Homeowners Association tells you in a firm tone that they have found your front yard to be unacceptable and that they want you to make it look better.  If you are unable to make it look better within a certain number of days, they will gladly make it look better for you for a small, outrageous fee to be added to your yearly neighborhood dues.  I have received a couple of these letters before and I noticed that the complaint had nothing to do with the back yard.  It only dealt with the front yard and other areas that everyone could see from the street.  The Homeowners Association was only concerned with the outside front yard.  It also mentioned nothing about the inside of the house,  In theory, I could have had a dog, a cat, a pony, and a family of possums inside my house with no bathroom and no one would care as long as my hedges were properly cut. 

It's very similar to the way that the world views people.  Some people don't care what type of person you are on the inside, as long as you look good on the outside.  If you don't believe me, try this experiment.  Go to work in a nice suit and tie on one day; then go to work in a pair of shorts, a ragged T-shirt, and a pair of old tennis shoes after cutting your yard of the month.  Watch and see the reaction of your co-workers as you explain that you are the same person no matter what you wear.  They will tell you that you may be the same person, but they would rather deal with the guy in the suit than the guy in the Bermuda shorts.  In most of the world, the look is more important than the inner content.  Here's another experiment.  Ladies, which of these gentlemen would you rather have dinner with?

                Brad Pitt?                                  or Brad Pitt?

Yeah.  I thought so.

Here's the point.  It's very easy to manipulate your outer image.  You can be a horrible person on the inside, but fool the entire world by your actions and outward appearance.  And by putting on the false appearance, you will probably achieve some level of success in the outside world.  But eventually, someone will find out about your true nature; and you will have to deal with those consequences.  There is an old manager of mine that was recently fired because his bosses finally figured out that he was not the person that he appeared to be.  He reached a point where he could no longer hide his true self and the bosses discovered that his true self was not what they wanted in their company. 

As children of God, we should be loving, gentle, kind, and compassionate.  You can be none of those things if you have a heart filled with deceit and malice.  No matter how good you look or act on the outside, if your heart is not right, you will not be able to continue the false appearance forever.  You will also find it difficult to please God or be an effective witness for him.  So I leave you with this simple question:  What do you spend more time working on?  Your outward appearance or your heart?  God already knows the answer.

Peace and Love,

Rev. Mike

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