“Do not judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24).
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Mt. 18:12-14).
JUDGE NOT BY OUTWARD APPEARANCE
God sees everything. He knows the beginning and end of every person. Man looks on the outward appearance and misjudges so many things about a person. Mere man sees all the imperfections of a person but God sees the totality of a man’s life and what he has already overcome and what he is yet to become. God sees the beauty of the work He is doing and completing in that man.
One prophet of God was judged by his fellow ministers because of a failed marriage and yet he had done everything he could in his power to save the marriage. Yet there are other ministers and men whom God has spoken to concerning adjustments they need to make to improve their own marriages, but they’re hard-hearted and won’t do it. The prophet was judged as a failure, but the others are judged as successes in their marriage. God does not see as man sees, nor judge as men judge. He sees beyond the surface of outward appearances. This is the reason why we often judge unrighteously. Most of the time we don’t know what people have gone through nor do we have full understanding of their current circumstances. The safe way is to always lean to the side of forbearance and mercy with others.
We see people laugh, but God sees the pain. We see people strut with confidence and pride, but God sees the insecurities. We see the super people skills and leadership abilities in a man, but God sees their remorse and regret for past mistakes. We see a man that seems to have it all together, but God sees them wretched, poor, blind, and naked. It has been said, “don’t judge a man until you’ve been in his shoes.”
On the other hand, we can see a person who seems needy but God sees a person who is irresponsible and won’t help themselves – who want pity, attention, and prey on others for provision. We can look at a person who appears humble outwardly, but God sees one who is full of pride and arrogance inwardly. We see a person who appears to love God with his words, but God sees a person who won’t obey Him and do the things He’s asked him to do.
BEING SENSITIVE IN AN INSENSITIVE WORLD
We need the Spirit’s discernment to judge righteously and see accurately, and we need to be sensitive to the ones God is calling us to pay attention to and help. It is easy to miss that in a world so full of hype and celebrity, and one where we are often consumed with our own affairs. Unplug from that world and plug yourself into the world of helping those God is leading you to help.
I remember years ago when I was invited to be the graduation speaker of a Bible school we had started and released to national leadership in Gambia, West Africa. At this graduation everyone was dressed in their Sunday best and were in a happy festive mood. There was lots of excitement and a sense of pride and appreciation for the graduates’ accomplishments. As people were greeting me and thanking me for coming, and wanting to snap pictures with me, my eyes landed upon a young woman in a wheelchair, whom years earlier when I lived in the country, I had known as one of the happiest girls. I saw her and looked beyond her outward smile and knew she was now a woman of a broken spirit. The Spirit of God moved me with compassion and I ministered to her and encouraged her. Amidst all the pomp and pageantry that a graduation affords there were a couple of other people the Lord directed me to minister to who were hurting and oppressed, almost veiled by the celebratory spirit present there. Once again, sometimes in the midst of such a celebratory event it is easy to miss the needs of hurting people, especially the unlovely and the plain that are hardly noticeable when alone, much less in a crowd. Such is so also in the busy-ness of life.
IS GOD UNFAIR?
I also have great admiration for parents who have disabled, handicapped, mentally unstable, or diseased children. The level of sacrifice and suffering they experience is beyond what most of us will ever experience. Thank God for His abounding grace, but it’s difficult. I know some of them personally, and the decisions they have to make as these types of children grow into adults is painful and heart rendering – like putting them in a group home away from the love of family. God’s heart is so moved for such people that sometimes His deafening silence makes it hard to believe that He even cares for the one. But God is otherworldly and His wisdom is higher than ours. There is a sovereignty concerning the Lord’s ways that we will never understand on this side of heaven. Yet His written Word and will is always one of health and healing provided through His atoning work on the cross. We are to exercise our faith and believe God for healing and miracles promised us in His Word. Nevertheless, believers who live with unanswered questions and yet continue to serve the Lord with a pure heart are heroes of mine. They’ve learned to make peace with the unknown and unresolved mysteries in life and trust God with everything.
For me personally, my wife and I always wanted more children. We have one beautiful godly son, whom we are so thankful for, but we’ve never known why we didn’t have more when we had agreed and asked the Lord for more. We’ve not suffered, but it’s still a mystery to us. There is much revealed wisdom and answers to so many of life’s issues in the Bible, but there are also certain things in life that are secrets and remain mysteries unless the Lord reveals it.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law” (Deut. 29:29).
Many people wrestle with life issues that are hard to understand – things that seem unfair, unjust, or unexplainable. But here are some answers:
For example, did you know that in 1 Kings 14 God allowed a child born into a wicked family to die because he found some good in him? There is one Scriptural reason some children may die young. What about the murder of unborn children? Did you know that every aborted child is now in heaven fulfilling God’s plan for their lives for all of eternity? That’s the good news. Every aborted embryo is with Jesus. Did you also know that disabled and mentally or physically handicapped children and their loving parents have a great reward in heaven that is above and beyond what we can think or imagine? They will live throughout eternity with that reward and honor. Eternity is a lot longer than this life. Here is more wisdom to another one of life’s mysteries: Did you know that the greater the hardship some people are born into, the greater the grace is for them to overcome it as they seek God? God is just and God is fair. We must never forget that.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE ONE
A few days ago my wife and I went to prayer for the West Coast trip we are currently on, and the Spirit of God interrupted us and had us spend a majority of our time praying for one person. He showed us the past, present, and even parts of this brother’s future in Him. He showed us all he’s had to overcome and how faithful he has been. And yet because of this brother’s unassuming nature, and vanilla personality no one ever pays much attention to him. But the Lord sees a covenant man and all the small ways (yet large in God’s sight) of how he shows his love for God every day.
It was truly a precious time of prayer where the Lord once again revealed His love for the one. I love His heart, His ways, and His love for the individual.
It’s as if the whole world stops for His love to be made manifest to the one. In our busyness lets not miss opportunities to love the one. Pay attention to who is in front of you or who He is putting on your heart. And let us continue to encourage the less fortunate, the weak, and the suffering.
A good shepherd leaves the 99 and goes after the one who has strayed or who needs immediate attention.
Oh, how I love Him. And how He loves us! Lovely Jesus. I find no fault in Him.