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 16:7 (NKJV)
Several months ago after work one night when I hurried through a large discount store in my annual search for tax software I became frustrated and tired of the long walk thru that big box store; so when I saw the telltale vest and badge worn by their employees on a man coming towards me I jumped at the chance to ask him for directions. When I looked up to greet him face to face, I was flustered to learn he was handicapped and wondered if I was putting him in an uncomfortable position. For some reason, with my question tumbling from my mouth I didn’t catch myself and stumble over the words but plunged on ahead. As he moved towards me I saw he had a slow, uneven gait and when he struggled with forming the words of his response I struggled with him to hit the right balance between allowing him the extra time he needed and not letting on that I was thinking anything out of the ordinary was happening.
It soon became apparent he was the right store employee to have stopped, as he was very knowledgeable and congenial. Of course, I picked that inopportune moment to admit the software he was pointing out wasn’t the brand I was seeking. Kindly, seeing my dilemma and no doubt, the tired look on this old lady’s face, he suggested we look in another aisle. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the item I was looking for there either. At this point, he volunteered that he did his taxes online for free.
Magically he had put me at ease so I confessed I wasn’t brave enough to do that as I was prone to make mistakes. We both laughed and he followed up by saying “Everyone does that occasionally.” “Yes, but I do that more than most,” I ventured and with a brief thank you, our conversation came to a natural end, not petering out awkwardly like I am known for. He gets all of the credit for that. It was apparent he was more self-assured and comfortable in his skin than I am in mine and had a gift for putting the other person at ease. Clearly, I had a lot to learn from this young man.
So many times we prejudge people based on the superficial when a few moments in their company would educate us on what they have to offer. Jesus had an affinity for those that society was quick to label “different”, as He always made time for them. When we shy away from them just because we feel awkward, it is more to our own detriment than theirs.
Lord, May we strive to see others through your eyes, looking to the inner man, instead of making snap judgments based on outward appearance. Amen