Look on the Heart

English: A MARTA rapid transit train and the A...

The young woman stepped into the MARTA train car, spied the empty seat next to me, walked over and sat down. She was dressed nicely in a knee-length wool skirt (at least I assumed it was wool because of its thickness and the temperature outside) and a crisply pressed white blouse. A pair of medium-heeled black shoes finished off her business outfit. Since we were traveling toward Five Points Station in the middle of downtown Atlanta, I wondered what her occupation was and where she might be headed to work.

I figured I had good reasons to be curious. From the neck down, she was a well-attired professional person. Up from there, it was a different twist. She was a blonde – or at least half blonde. The bottom half of her shoulder length hair was colored green. In addition, two studs stuck out from her cheek like silver pimples. What a contrast!

I realize I’m conservative and always behind the times on fashion. And, I was definitely “country come to town” in the big city. I was confused about what my reaction should be.

(I wrote the above three paragraphs earlier this week – the MARTA trip was a few months ago) Interestingly, at a meeting today, a business speaker talked about the Millennial generation. (Typically considered those born in the 80’s and 90’s – which is where this young woman probably fits). Among other points, he said they generally dress casually and want to be judged on achievement, not on external things.

This blog and the young woman came to mind. Green hair and studs in her cheek probably have little effect on her “achievement” at whatever occupation she has. And, more importantly, if she is a Christian, I can’t see how they would affect how closely she is following God.

We didn’t have a conversation. My observation of her “life” ended in a few minutes at the next station, where we both left the train and went separate directions. My only information about her was external.

When Samuel was examining the sons of Jesse to determine who should be the next King of Israel, God made it clear that the external things were not what mattered most:

“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.” 1st Samuel 16:7 ESV

If the young lady had wanted to know (which I am sure she didn’t), I could have told her my first impression had given me pause. If, say, she was a financial advisor and sat down before me as her potential client, there would need to be a lot of conversation to convince this aging Baby-Boomer that she was the right advisor for me (regardless of whether that’s right or wrong on my part, it is accurate).

But, if, say, she came into the church I attend, the green hair and studs should not be a factor. My response should be to thank the Lord for her presence, and welcome her with gladness that we would have the opportunity to worship God together.

6 thoughts on “Look on the Heart

  1. Great story! We do see a lot of interesting things when we venture into the city — reminds us not to judge to hastily — for we know not what is in the heart!
    Great post, Bill. Enjoyed!
    God Bless You!

  2. While I agree with your conclusion that one can’t judge accurately by externals, don’t be too hard on us baby boomers.:) We were brought up by parents who considered pride a sin. In religious homes a generation ago there was still some memory of I Timothy 2:9-10. (No “Hey everybody, notice me!” neon hair colors for either sex.) In the intervening years someone has changed a lot of rules and it leaves some of us older ones baffled.

    Also, those of us who’ve been Christians for thirty-odd years have fought some battles with the Holy Spirit already about what WE want versus what Our Father wants for us. One day years back I was shopping for glasses and found a pair of frames that did something really nice for my blue eyes. I told the optician, “Yes, I’ll take them!” But the Holy Spirit said, “No.”

    Pride and vanity are born in us–we want to make a big splash somehow–and the Holy Spirit works hard to make us humble and sober in our thinking. I can look back and see that the times I’ve ignored Him only brought me grief. It somehow just never worked out for me to enjoy what I’d wanted so bad. I would be inclined to think that someone with neon hair still has some of those battles to go through.

    • Thanks for the great comments, Christine. I ran through many of the same thoughts but decided to focus in on the one thought – the passage in James kept coming to mind about not treating the rich man and the poor man (each described by their external “look”) differently when they attended a worship service.

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