The church was half full. Pastor Thomas beamed. He asked the young choir to start singing as the congregation trickled in. Elder Josh was watching. He was looking out for new comers.
Dangling her Gucci hand bag, Phoebe sauntered in. She was dressed fashionable and looked very affluent. Josh was entranced. He quickly rushed to her personally and offered her a hymn book and the order of service. “Please come and sit here in the first pew. You’ll be comfortable under the fan” he gushed as he ushered her in.
Phoebe took the book from him without a smile. She sat down. Josh was watching her. She was not singing. Phoebe was fully absorbed in adjusting her dress and making herself more comfortable. She hardly looked into the hymnbook. She seemed to be fully absorbed in herself.
He almost missed another new comer. This was Rhoda who just slipped into the last pew. She appeared unkempt and ill prepared for a worship service. Or so thought Josh.
Josh forced himself to offer a hymnbook to Rhoda. But he was surprised by the smile she gave him as she thanked Josh. Rhoda walked in by herself and sought a place in one of the last pews. She sat and bowed her head in prayer. After that she began to join in the singing. “Looks like she is singing with all her heart” thought Josh as he went forward to usher others.
Pastor Thomas preached. He was sharing about the anointing of David. “Prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem, to meet Jesse. The Lord God had told him that he had to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the new king of Israel. King Saul had disobeyed God and the Lord was looking forward to put his spirit on a new king. Samuel, you know had a lesson to learn on this day. He went in to Jesse’s house and asked to see his sons.”
“One after other Jesse introduced his sons to the prophet. Eliab, the eldest, was a tall and handsome young man. The moment Samuel saw him, he was tempted. “Surely this must be the one chosen”, he thought. But God said no. he looked at the second, third and fourth and fifth sons, all handsome hulks. But the Lord said no. The Lord told Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”
Pastor Thomas went on to share about how we all have two natures. One is for others to see and the other is the real one. “We wear masks, all the time” he said “…and fool others around us.’
Josh’s eyes were brimming with tears as he listened. He felt that the Lord was talking to him through Pastor Thomas.
The Pastor continued, “We often look at others like Samuel did. Their outward appearance matters much to us. We begin to like them because they look like us, or because they look profitable to us. Sometimes in the ministry we even classify people who can contribute to the church funds and so on? Isn’t it judging? Remember folks, God looks at the heart! It is what we are in the inside that matters. Not how smartly we are dressed or how rich we are! Elsewhere the Lord said we need to be rich toward god. Only that matters, in His perspective!”
Josh knelt down at his pew and prayed. “Heavenly father! Please forgive me. I am so sorry. I have judged people with my own limited knowledge. Help me Lord to see people as you see them. Help me to treat people as you would treat them. Let me see them all as my beloved brothers and sisters. I ask this all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ”
After the service, Josh rushed to the foyer. He hugged Pastor Thomas, “Pastor you spoke to my heart” he said, “Your message was just for me. I agree with you: Inside matters! I have now decided to look at others as God does”
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