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.” 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
Putting on Masks
How a person may appear to others, and who that person may be deep down inside his heart may be as different as night and day. For, humans are good at performing and at putting on masks so that people will like them. Thus, some of the seemingly nicest people we meet may be child molesters, adulterers, gossipers, slanderers, manipulators and thieves and liars.
And, that brings me to this word “nice.” Do you know that “nice” often means superficial, agreeable, amusing, charming and polite? And, do you know that “polite” often carries with it the same characteristic traits? And, that in some cultures here in America, it involves lying to people, deceiving them, and then stabbing them in the back when they are not looking?
Yet, nowhere in scripture are we encouraged to be superficial and to perform well so that people will like us. Nowhere in scripture are we told that it is okay to lie to people to their faces, and then to mock them once they are out of our sight, and then to laugh about it. Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to be charming and amusing so that people will like us, or to be agreeable with all people in order to be acceptable to other humans.
Several years ago a pastor’s wife, in the community where we lived at that time, died. And, I can still recall what was being said about her then. People raved at what a wonderful Christian woman she was because she was so nice to everyone, and because everyone loved her, and she had no enemies. According to them, she did and said all the culturally acceptable things that people do, and so she was well liked by everyone, it would appear.
Now she may have been a very godly woman. I didn’t know her, so I can’t say. So, I am making no judgments on her character at all. But, what stood out to me was the assessment of other humans as to what a good Christian is to be like or look like. And, it had to do with being “nice” to everyone so that she had no enemies, and so that everyone liked her.
But, then I compared that to scripture and to how it describes what good Christians should be like. They should be those who have died to their old lives of sin, who have been reborn of the Spirit of God, and they should be walking in accord with the Spirit of God and no longer according to the flesh.
They should be living holy lives, separate (different) from the world, and set apart unto God, because they’re being made to be like Jesus. They should be walking in obedience to their Lord, and they should be witnessing for Jesus Christ and for his gospel of salvation to the world around them.
Thus, the world and the worldly church should not love them as their own. Instead, the world and the worldly church should hate them, and they should persecute them, and speak falsely against them.
Everyone won’t love them or think that they are “nice,” either. And, that is because they don’t join in with the world, they don’t blend in with the culture, they do stand out as different, and because they are sharing with others the gospel which offends people because it demands death to sin and living to righteousness.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Co. 1:26-31 ESV
But God Chose
For, you see, God doesn’t choose like we do. He is not impressed by outward appearance or by charm or cultural politeness or niceties which get us liked by other humans. He doesn’t want us to be agreeable with all humans so that they will like us in return. We are supposed to be agreeable with God, instead, which means we will have to be disagreeable with the flesh of man which is opposed to God and to his righteousness.
Now, I am certainly not saying that we should go around being all hateful and mean. We should be loving and kind to others, but loving and kind by God’s standards of what those words mean, not by human standards.
For, it is neither loving or kind to lie to people just so they will like us, especially if we shrink back from our faith, and we deny our Lord, and we are more concerned with people liking us than we are concerned with other people’s salvation from sin and eternal life with God. Loving like God loves us means to lay down our lives for the salvation of others, and to be willing to be hated and rejected in order to see others be set free. And, “kind” means to tell people the truth that they need to hear, but to do so in love.
Jesus, our Example
And, Jesus is our primary example here. He is not the “Jesus” that many people think he is or have been convinced that he was. He didn’t just go around doing good deeds and blessing people so that it made them feel good about him. Everyone didn’t like him. In fact, the majority hated him and they rejected him, and they would not receive him as their own.
For, what he said to them offended them, because he told them that their deeds were evil. He confronted sin in sinful humans. He didn’t make nice with the world so that the world would love him. And, that is one of the reasons they hated him so much, because he wasn’t like them, and he didn’t do the things that they did, and he even confronted them about the things they were doing that were wrong, and he told them that they had to change, and he told them that if they didn’t, they would not go to heaven.
So, again, God doesn’t see like we see. He judges people by what is in their hearts, not by cultural norms of society which dictate how we should all act. He knows who truly loves him and who does not. He knows who is going to follow him and obey him, and he knows who will make superficial professions of faith in him only, but who will then live their lives to please the flesh and other humans.
Honestly, with regard to the culture of our day here in America within the church, I believe that if Jesus Christ were to walk inside the doors of most or many of our gatherings, they would not recognize him nor receive him as their own. But, they would despise and reject him because he didn’t “stay in his own lane” and because he offended people by the things that he said. So, they would encourage him to “go someplace else” where he would be a “better fit.”
What To Expect
So, if you identify yourself with Jesus Christ, then don’t expect that you will be liked by everyone or that you won’t be hated, rejected and persecuted. Expect that you will be treated like he was treated, and that even the worldly church will invite you to go someplace else because you don’t fit.
And, expect, too, that people will think you are not a good Christian because you don’t “stay in your own lane,” but you speak out and you tell people the truth, because you love others more than you love yourself.
But, know that God is on your side if you are walking in his ways and in his truth, so don’t be discouraged. Just keep trusting the Lord. Keep obeying him. Keep following his lead. Keep doing what he says.
But, be prepared to be hated and rejected even by others who call themselves Christians. And, don’t be afraid of that. The Lord will give you the strength that you need to endure and to keep on in the faith and to keep on sharing the gospel so that others can come to know him, too.
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.
Saturday, August 3, 2019