Do you know what I see? Blooms of all colors--red, pink, blue, white, yellow, orange, purple in all shades and combinations—and shapes—bells, tubes, bowls, cups, stars with five or six points, some flared, some rayed, some as complex as orchids. And did you know that even the stems are different? Some are wiry, some are leafless, some are hairy, some sprawl and others stand up straight, and some are square! Some of these flowers are exquisite, but most of us don’t know that. We’ve never taken the time to bend over and really look.
A long time ago a woman who has since become a close friend, told me that looking across the pews at Keith had made her think he was stern and unapproachable, and so she had decided to make it a point to get to know him. It wasn’t really Keith’s fault. He has large, piercing blue eyes that look like they’re boring into you, a strong Roman nose, and a voice that, because he is profoundly deaf, is always in projection mode. Even when he isn’t, he often sounds disapproving, and is always loud, which is often translated “angry.” A lot of people just go with that first impression. This woman did not, and she proclaimed that year of getting to know him “delightful.” I wonder how many others have missed out on that delight, how many have formed an opinion, and kept it despite what others might have said.
How many do we overlook? The elderly because we think them dull and uninteresting? The teenagers because we’ve branded them all shallow and naïve? The disabled because we think they have nothing to offer? The scholarly and intellectual because we think those dry old men can’t possibly know how to have any fun? The ones who seem so well put-together that we think they wouldn’t possibly want anything to do with “someone like me?” None of these judgments is fair.
Jesus told the Jews, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment,” John 7:24. Maybe I should take the time (sacrifice) to bend over (be humble) and examine (make some effort) a few wildflowers out there, instead of passing over them (negligence) as if they weren’t worth my trouble (arrogance). When I think of it that way, I finally understand why judging by appearance is NOT righteous.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Sam 16:7