But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The first King of Israel was Saul – a man of impressive appearance by all accounts ‘Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land ‘ (1 Samuel 9) Ideal for a King you might think – but in the long run a man who failed God. When it came to choosing a successor, different standards were needed. In looking for the right man, Samuel started using the old criteria (v 6) and had to learn to listen to God before eventually recognising David.
We are no different from Samuel. There is a tendency in all of us to judge people by their outward appearance, and that can lead us into all kinds of mistaken opinions.
The trouble is we cannot see what is going on inside people, so time and again we have to make allowances for what we see and accept people as they are. This practice of welcoming everybody and loving everybody is an act of faith – it is not always based on what we can see. Loving acceptance is given on the basis that God accepts and loves people before we do.
That might lead us into situations where we feel somewhat vulnerable; learning to welcoming and accept all kinds of people is also therefore an act of trust, and obedience to God. It goes beyond logic and social norms but has the power to transform the lives of those we welcome.