The Heart of the Matter
1 Samuel 16:7
By the time students reach middle or junior high school, the worst of the playground humiliation is over. But for those grammar school years, nothing strikes fear into the hearts of some children like the teacher’s announcement: “Today at recess, we’re going to choose teams and play kickball.”
The less popular and non-athletic students know the drill all too well: They will stand staring at the sky or their feet in a dwindling crowd while the superstars are selected amidst great backslapping and high-fiving. Then, because their sole qualification is that they are alive, they will be chosen among the last. And woe to “the” last one chosen—he or she will be assigned a position on the far side of the outfield where the least amount of collateral damage can be caused by errant play.
No one likes to be last chosen for anything. We say we don’t mind; we pretend not to care. But inside, we resent being judged—and either accepted or rejected—on the basis of athleticism, appearance, intelligence, or social standing. We want to be appreciated for who we are deep on the inside. The good news is that God values us in exactly that way. Regardless of how adequate or inadequate we appear to be, God knows our hearts.
The prophet Samuel was directed by God to choose, not a team, but a “captain” of a team—the next king of Israel. After reviewing all of Jesse’s sons, God’s choice was discovered to be tending the sheep—Jesse’s youngest son, David. Samuel had been warned by God to remember that God’s evaluations are not based on outward appearances, but on the heart. In other words, the way man chooses and the way God chooses are not the same.
Though the wounds from grammar school popularity contests heal with time, life continues to make us feel inadequate in many ways. Our comfort is in knowing that God sees who we really are on the inside—and values us accordingly. Knowing that he is the only one we really need to please, and that his evaluation is the only one that really counts, is a relief in a world built around outward appearances.
God’s Promise to You: “I am always aware of exactly who you really are.”