“Dude, I didn’t get in!”
Jake’s dejected face said it all. It was April of our senior year in high school and all of us were anxiously awaiting the decisions from the colleges and universities to which we applied. It was the culmination of our four years of high school and it all came down to this envelope.
“You’ll probably find out today or tomorrow. I know Stuart found out the bad news yesterday too.” He dismissively shook his head. “You know how you know before you even open the letter? It’s a thin envelope.”
“Oh.” Prophetically, that evening when I returned home, I opened the mailbox and fished out the dreaded thin envelope, assuring that I would also not be attending this dream college.
Flash forward to the present and my daughter is now applying to colleges. Yesterday, we received a thin envelope from one of the colleges to which she was applying. I nervously put it aside for my daughter to open when she came home, thinking it was the worst. I should have examined the envelope more carefully. When she came home, she let out a gleeful shout. On the back of the envelope, in boldfaced letters was the phrase:
It was her first acceptance letter and it was in a thin envelope! We celebrated that evening, hopeful this was the beginning of many more acceptances.
I often jump to conclusions based on past experiences and preconceived notions. This was a trivial example but what about when I am prejudging others because of prior prejudices? If I received a job application from a man who spent numerous years in and out of prison for persecuting and slandering others, I would undoubtedly toss it aside. I would also have rejected the Apostle Paul.
What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?
Proverbs 25:8 (ESV)
In this day of constant newsfeeds and trending social media, a long-forgotten event in someone’s past may become sensational fodder for instant media gratification. Invariably the event is embarrassing, even offensive, and may not reflect the person’s character, now many years removed from the event. Yet, guilty until proven innocent is the new paradigm and the public is often willing to oblige. God reminds us to look beyond the circumstances and ask Him to reveal the true heart and intentions of the person who is being judged.
“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.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
In this passage, God was speaking of the future King David, when He commanded the prophet, Samuel, to look beyond the physical appearance of a young shepherd boy and trust God to anoint this young man as the future King. As God promised Samuel, David would become the greatest earthly King of Israel and Jesus Christ would be one of his earthly descendants. God obliterates our preconceived notions and prejudices of what we think or expect in this life and gives us His Son, Jesus Christ. When we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, Jesus chooses not to remember our past, present, and future sins when He accepts us as an adopted son of God.
We can, likewise, do this for others when we allow Jesus Christ into our lives. No prejudices or pre-judgment, only seeking God’s will for our lives and for all whom we meet.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.