Do Not Look at His Appearance


After God had rejected Saul as king over Israel, He sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be the next king. Before God indicated that Jesse’s youngest son David would be chosen, Samuel assumed that his oldest son Eliab would be the Lord’s choice.

When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.’ 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 16:6-7).

David was “a man after [God’s] heart” (Acts 13:22). Yet Samuel, having never met any of these men previously, did not know the heart of David, Eliab, or any of the others. He was passing judgment and making assumptions based upon what these men looked like. God indicated to Samuel that this was the wrong way to evaluate their worthiness to lead God’s people.

Sadly, some today will wrongly judge the worthiness, competence, or morality of an individual based upon how that person looks.

  • Some wrongly judge others based upon the color of their skin. In the beginning, “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). All people descended from Adam. Paul said, “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Though some people may look different (e.g., different skin color), God has made us all the same. This is why Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). People may have different skin colors, but there is just one race – the human race.
  • Some wrongly judge others based upon their country of origin. Jesus told His apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). When Peter arrived at the household of Cornelius, he said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Since God shows no partiality, we must not either.
  • Some wrongly judge others based upon the clothes that they wear. James addressed this problem: “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:1-4). Just as it is wrong to look down on someone because of their skin color, it is wrong to look down on someone because he cannot afford to dress as nicely as others.

We could likely think of other ways in which some wrongly judge others based upon their appearance. But the above examples are common and also sufficient to show that this problem does exist.

The Lord told Samuel, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). One’s outward appearance is largely out of his control, particularly as it relates to genetics. But one can control his heart. The wise man said, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). We are not to “judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). This means we must learn to see things as God sees them. As it relates to this lesson, it means we must evaluate others based upon their heart, not their appearance.

Not all people of a particular skin color are the same. Not all people from a particular country are the same. Not all people who dress a certain way are the same. God judges people as individuals (Ezekiel 18:20; 2 Corinthians 5:10). If we are to be like God, we must reject prejudices and unfair stereotypes and see people for who they really are – souls that have been made in the image of God.

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  1. Bobby McPherson says

    Andy this is a very good summation of Gods way of looking at man and should be used by every Christian today.