May 17

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) 7But 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."

The LORD sent Samuel to anoint a new king from the house of Jesse. When the oldest was presented, a strong, tall warrior, Samuel thought surely this was the man. The Lord responded with our verse for today. From these ancient roots we have the expression, "Don't judge a book by its cover." We are so governed by what our senses tell us. Man makes associations with things he has been through in the past. We all have prejudices of one kind or another, but God sees straight into the heart.

The sharpest looking man among us with the warmest smile and most pleasant manners may be the vilest person we ever met. The street person in dirty clothes and not a penny to his name may have a heart totally given to God. That is why the LORD tells us not to judge by outward appearances. Jesus told us to judge by the fruit produced from the life. (Matthew 7:20)

If we must make a quick decision without a chance to see the fruit of the life, then we must listen to the One who sees the heart. Only the LORD can look in and give us direction. Man is quick to make judgment calls about another's motivations or heart attitudes. That is God's area of expertise, not man's. I have seen the most discerning make the worst judgment calls at times. All men are fallible, but God sees the heart. He sees ours too. We don't fool God with our outward appearance. We would be better off to be the poor dirty fellow in the street with a heart after God than Mr. Slick that has everyone but God fooled.

Consider: Do I make judgments based on how a person appears? What does a con-artist look like?

May 17

Luke 16:29-31 (NIV) 29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 30"'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Jesus told a story of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Both of them died. The rich man was in a place of torment and could see Abraham and the beggar. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus with water to relieve his thirst. Abraham said it was not possible. Then the rich man asked for Lazarus to be sent to his living brothers to warn them. Our passage today is Abraham's reply.

They have something better than the words of a man returned from the dead. They have the Law and the prophets, the words from God that warn them. It is up to them to listen to those words. But the rich man kept pleading, insisting that someone from the dead would cause them to repent. Abraham said that they would not be convinced. If they can ignore the words of God, they can ignore or excuse a person coming to them from the dead.

It is interesting that Jesus called the poor man Lazarus, for in the future Jesus was going to raise a man named Lazarus from the dead. There were those who witnessed that event that went straight to the religious leaders. Those leaders would be determined to kill Jesus because of that miracle. Then, after Jesus rose from the dead, they still refused to believe. The Law and the prophets predicted all this, but they refused to believe them and the One who was resurrected. When Jesus told the story it must have seemed incredulous that people would not believe a person who had returned from the dead, and yet in a short time it came to pass. Man has the ability to justify anything in his own mind. We can convince ourselves not to believe. One has returned from the dead, the Victor over death. Have you allowed yourself to be convinced? The rich man said it would cause his brothers to repent.

Consider: Does resurrection convince you so that your life is changed?