I remember when our children began washing dishes. They tried with all their might, but they would still miss a spot here and there. I can recall my baby girl saying, "Momma, it's all clean now." Well, the outside was clean, but the inside still had spots.
We can sit down at a restaurant and notice if our cup is dirty. Maybe our fork isn't spotless. Our plate may have a smudge of some unidentified remains. What do we do? We sure don't drink or eat out of those dirty dishes. We ask for new ones.
Our problem doesn't so much lie with wanting things clean as it does with noticing just the outside. We tend to do that to people, don't we? We see the outside and see all that needs cleaned up. Forgetting that Jesus is the One who cleans us, washes us in His grace and covers us with His mercy, to make us white as snow.
It's easy to see the outside, especially when it's the first thing we notice, and the first thing we judge. Do we really judge a book by the cover? You betcha. Some of the best books I have read, have had covers I would have never chosen, but after reading the book, it all became clear. The cover fit perfectly.
If we are not careful we can become like the Pharisees. We can make those first assumptions just by the outward appearance of man, instead of looking beyond that, into the heart and soul of man.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisees, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also."
We become so preoccupied with the outer perception of people, we forget to just take a step back, take some time, and get to know the inside. We are all different. We are all unique. Created by the same God. Let us remember, He doesn't create junk. The same blood that runs through my veins, runs through yours. We are descendants of the King of kings, Lord of lords. We have a mighty heritage.
Of course we don't know what Jesus looked liked. We can imagine his dark skin and lean figure. I wonder what people saw when they looked upon Him. Did they see the perfection before them? He was unlike any other, but in many ways, so the same. He was God in man form. He saw the heart of man first. Why do we have such a hard time doing so? Is it our human nature to judge from that first meeting? It's not our human nature. It's an ugly habit that we have picked up along the way. It's prejudice embeded in the hearts of man. Shame on us. Shame on me for looking at the outward of man instead of the inner heart.
Sure, we can say our outward appearance is a reflection of what is inside. Yes, as Christians we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. But can we judge others by that same standard if they do not know it? I'm sure in my teen age years people looked upon me in my Ozzy Osbourne shirts and Led Zeppelin music and thought, "Wow, this young girl needs help. She must be trouble waiting to happen." Hm. Shame on me or shame on them? I didn't know Christ when I was a teen. I now look back and think, "Really, Ozzy Osbourne?"
"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;"
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7
That broken and lost girl of long ago, trying desperately to find herself, was loved by a God she didn't know. He was molding and creating in her, readying her heart to accept Him. He didn't care about my clothes or the color of my hair. He saw in me the girl, the woman, He created me to be. He took His time with me, so in His perfect timing, I would be ready.
"But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and Your our Potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand."
God has a way of removing what is not appealing to the heart and revealing what is beauty to the soul. If we do the changing we miss something spectacular. If we allow Him to do the changing, He will reveal in us, perfection. Just like a metamorphosis of a butterfly, He too takes His time and creates in us who we are to be in Him. It's through Him that we find who we are. Not the world. Fads come and go. Change happens on a daily basis. It's up to us where what direction that change takes us. Change can either bring us closer to Christ or take us further away.
Remember, Christ drank from our cup when He was upon the cross. He chose to take the dirty, the ugly, the ash, and bring it to a beauty only He could create. Grace is for us all. May we not look to another and judge them on their appearance, but take a few moments and simply get to know the heart. It just might be in those few minutes of our time that a life can be changed forever. It just might be our life changed by stepping out of our box and remembering God's grace in the moment of first glance.