I was in a hurry to prepare breakfast as I had to get my son to school for a Saturday morning rugby match. There were two grapefruit left in the fridge. One had a badly marked skin while the other one looked perfect. I decided not to risk the fruit with the dodgy skin and took the perfect one. When I cut it in two I found that a pip in the middle had gone bad. This didn’t deter me and I cut the rotten pip out of both halves of the grapefruit, and then attacked them with the grapefruit knife so that the segments could be removed easily. Sitting down at the table with my grapefruit and the morning paper I tasted a segment. It was disgusting. I tasted a second segment and it was also disgusting.
The grapefruit with the perfect skin went into the bin. I took the other grapefruit from the fridge and cut it into two. My confidence at this point was low. The marked skin was shouting out at me; “this grapefruit is not worth bothering with!” I used the grapefruit knife to remove just one segment. It tasted really good. I prepared both halves, and I as sat at the table eating my breakfast I remembered that when the prophet Samuel had been sent by God to choose one of the sons of Jesse to be the second king of Israel he made a similar mistake. When Samuel looked only at the outside his eyes were drawn to the best looking, tallest, most athletic of Jesse’s sons. And that was when God whispered in Samuel’s ear:
“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.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
As Samuel passed along the line none of the sons of Jesse seemed to fit the bill. In desperation he asked Jesse, “are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, he is tending the sheep.” Jesse was referring to David, his youngest son, who would defeat the giant Goliath, and one day become a great king who would walk closely with God. Perhaps David was disregarded because of his youth. Perhaps being the youngest he was the cheekiest and most annoying member of the family? My youngest son is the class comedian who often courts trouble at school, but I know that God has something special for him one day. He may not lead a country but I can see past the teenager with the dodgy sense of humour to the child of God inside.
While it is easy to accept that God does not look at the outside of a person, we also need to remember that the inside that we see is not necessarily the inside that God sees. Consider God’s own Son Jesus, as described by the prophet Isaiah:
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2-5 NIV)
Could it be that this Christmas God is calling out to you? Even though you may feel unworthy because of what you think you look like on the outside and the inside, God sees things that you don’t. Just like He did with David the shepherd boy who became king of Israel.