The passages we’ve pondered the last two days came from Paul’s first letter to Corinth; the passage below comes from his second. Though this passage focuses on a different issue for the Corinthians, there is a common theme that runs through all three passages – and actually runs throughout the entire Bible, but especially the New Testament. I’ve attempted to draw out that theme by emphasizing the contrasting words “appearance” and “heart.”
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
– 2 Corinthians 5:11-13 (emphasis added)
Even in the Old Testament, God had said to Samuel the priest:
…God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
– 1 Samuel 16:7
Thus God has always taken more of an interest in us than our fellow man is capable of seeing. That’s why it’s all the more strange that people try to impress each other instead of trying to impress the one and only God!
If you’ve come to Christ and want to serve Him, know this: You do not need a new job, a new wife, or new kids. Instead, they all need a new you. That’s why Christ wants to transform you from the inside out to make you more like Him.
If you try to serve Christ by cleaning up your act in front of other people, you’re missing the whole point. Christ’s way is to clean you up beginning with the motives for all you think, say, and do. Out of that process, your words and deeds become clean as a consequence. This was the purpose in Paul’s admonition, which we’ve read the last two days:
…each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
– 1 Corinthians 7:24
It’s the way of man to tinker with outward appearances; it’s the way of God to overhaul inward motivations.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, I want You to be proud of my thoughts…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)