Putting on a Mask

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

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.”

Outward Appearance

“Wearing a mask” has a new meaning these days. It used to mean to put on a façade or a disguise to cover-up one’s true character and conduct. It meant to conceal who you really are so that no one would know you for real, but they would only know the persona you wanted to present outwardly.

A biblical term for that is hypocrisy. It is pretending to be something or someone you are not. Now, someone may do this out of fear of the rejection of others, or they may “put on a mask” to hide something more sinister. Either way, it is still giving a false impression of who you really are.

And behind “the facade” is wanting to gain human approval and acceptance and/or it is for the purpose to deceive and to manipulate others so that they will like you, and/or so that you can gain some type of advantage over them which is for your benefit, not for theirs.

But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are not supposed to be those who put on airs, who pretend to be better than what we are. Now, it doesn’t mean to do the opposite, which still stems from pride. We don’t go around with a false humility putting ourselves down so others will build us up, either.

As Christians, we are to be sincere and honest. And, we are to be trustworthy and faithful. We are not to lie to people. We are not to even tell “white lies,” which are still lies. And, we are not to give false impressions to deceive others, too. But we are to let our “Yes” be “Yes” and our “No” be “No.”

Judging by Appearance

We should not be those who judge others by their outward appearance. For, we may judge a scoundrel to be a godly man, and a godly person to be off base. And, we should not judge them by comparing them to ourselves. And, we should not judge them by human standards and traditions, either.

This is not to say that all judging is wrong, though. We make judgments every day of our lives. And, we are to judge good from evil and right from wrong and lies from truth and false teaching from biblical teaching, etc. And we are to judge those in the church who are living in sin without repentance.

But we need to judge righteously, by God’s standards, and according to his measurements, not by human standards or by ourselves or hypocritically. For, if we are not careful, we can end up hurting our own wounded while we end up honoring and following wolves in sheep’s clothing.

I read a book by Chuck Swindoll, which he wrote many years ago, that addresses this issue, I believe. It is called “Dropping Your Guard,” published in 1983. In it he addressed the issue of the church hurting its own wounded.

He said, “Churches need to be less like national shrines and more like local bars . . . less like untouchable cathedrals and more like well-used hospitals, places to bleed in rather than monuments to look at . . . places where you can take your mask off and let your hair down . . . places where you can have your wounds dressed.”

“Do you know what you need? You need a shelter. A place of refuge. A few folks who can help you, listen to you, introduce you, once again, to ‘. . . the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction’ (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Christianity may be ‘like a might army,’ but we often handle our troops in a weird way. We’re the only outfit I’ve ever heard of who shoots their wounded.”

But I must caution here against going soft on sin and not speaking the truth in love to those who need to hear the truth, out of fear of hurting them. But also, I must caution all of us to make certain we are speaking God’s truth, not our own, and that we are following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If we must make judgments, let us make sure we are judging righteously, according to the Word of God (taken in context), in truth, and in love, which is for the benefit of the listener, to help him or her to grow in his or her faith and to walk in obedience to the Lord.

The Lord Looks at the Heart

Now, we can’t see into other people’s hearts. Only God can. Nonetheless, the Bible says that it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks, and it is out of the heart from which all kinds of evil comes. And, the Scriptures do tell us to test the spirits to see which ones are of God, and that we will know who is from God by the fruit that they bear.

But, again, we must be very careful here that we do not judge people falsely without knowledge or based on appearance or on a surface level evaluation or based on ourselves or our traditions or human thinking and reasoning, etc. Again, if we are not careful, we may be guilty of suppressing the righteous while we uphold the ungodly. And this does happen regularly.

So, we must test all things in prayer against the word of God (again, taken in context), once we make certain we don’t have a log in our own eye first that needs to be removed. And, we must pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make right judgments, for we must judge good from evil, and what is false from what is truth. We must, so that we are not led astray.

But before we endeavor to make such judgments about others, let us all make certain that we are living righteously, and that we are not living hypocritically, pretending one thing on the outside while we live another.

And, then let us not make false judgments without knowledge based on appearance, but let us ask the Spirit of God to lead us to right judgments that are for the good of others to help them to walk in holiness and in purity of devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nearer, My God, to Thee

Lyrics: Sarah F. Adams, pub. 1841
Vs. 6: Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr.
Music: Lowell Mason, 1856

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

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4 thoughts on “Putting on a Mask

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