But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7
Christian counselor and author Larry Crabb recently recounted in a sermon how he had the opportunity in his vocation to speak to hundreds of people, which led him to come to this one major conclusion about people's lives: "
Way down deep, people are different than what they appear to be on the outside. My conviction is that a quality of life is available to each of us that we know little about. It seems to me that if our Lord meant what he said when he talked about wanting to give us an abundant life, then we have some hard thinking to do. There are realities deep in people's souls, where nobody else sees, that need to be looked at carefully."*
Good Tree - Bad Fruit?
But how do we do that? How do we know what's in someone's heart? Our own heart? Well, the truth is we don't. Jesus said we could get really close by examining the fruit (outward deeds) in a person's life, but even then we may miss it. He used this illustration to make that point:
"A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart." - Luke 6:43-45
God Looks At the Inside
Have you ever met someone who was attractive on the outside, but later you found them to be deeply flawed in their thinking, values and actions? Appearances can be deceiving, because we can't initially detect what's on the inside of someone with the clarity that God can. He is able to look beneath the surface at the heart—that is, the center of a person's physical, emotional, intellectual and moral activities. But when He does, what does He see? What does He see in us? Good or evil?
Only Jesus Can Change the Heart
Looks can be deceiving. Good looks are at best temporary. But what's lasting about a man or woman is what's on the inside, and that's where only God can come and spiritually dwell to bring about change. That is, if we let Him. When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts by repenting of our sins and asking for His forgiveness, we become what our Lord called, "born again, (John 3:3-8). It's then and only then that God can begin to change us from the inside out.
Here are two powerful Bible verses that the Apostle Paul wrote to a church full of people just like you and me about that beautiful change that God does in our lives for all to see when we give our hearts to Him:
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:18
The word "transformed" in the original language of the New Testament is metamorphomi, from which we get our English word "metamorphosis." It literally means a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. Think of that ugly, slimy worm that goes into a cocoon and is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. But that's not all:
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17
The Bible says that when the gospel transforms a person's heart, they become "a new person." The word for "new" used twice in this verse means "brand new." It speaks of Christians who are changed from evil to good by the Spirit of God who comes to live within every believer (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). God doesn't just do a nice remodel or upgrade on us. He makes us brand new, and He starts from the inside out. Aren't we glad!!
The Maranatha Singers performed a worship song about God's process of change. Appropriately it's called, "From the Inside Out." Just click here and enjoy.
* Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr., "Take An Inside Look," Preaching Today - Tape #89.