1 Samuel 16:1-12
I recently “friended” a college classmate on Facebook and then called him to catch up on years gone by. He spent part of our conversation bemoaning the appearance of young men today and said, “Joe, I’m tired of seeing young brothers with dreadlocks down their backs wearing baggy jeans and loose sneakers! Don’t they know that they can’t get jobs looking like that and that people will be suspicious of them because of how they look?”
I just said “Hmmm” to avoid laughing as I responded because my classmate – who’s now a very successful accountant – was very much into the “Black Power” movement in our college days and was known for an Afro hairstyle the size of a small shrub, multicolored African Dashiki shirts, medallions the size of hubcaps and seriously high platform shoes!
My friend isn’t unique, because every adult generation comes down with “convenient amnesia” and thinks that the younger generation is totally weird in dress and attitude. I still remember, however, what my mother said when I came home from college looking like the archetype of a 1970’s Black Power activist – “Wear whatever you want on the outside, but make sure that what’s on the inside is good.”
My mother’s advice is still helpful as we size up those that we encounter from day to day. Our human tendency is to judge – and sometimes disparage and discount – the worth of others because of their outward appearance.
We’d do well to remember that God sees beyond outward appearance and knows our hearts, minds and spirits. God knows the good in the worst of us and the bad in the best of us and saw fit to offer all of us salvation through the gift of Christ Our Savior.
Cultivate the wisdom as you go through life to see all of those that you encounter as wondrously made creations of God, regardless of outward appearance. Some of them may still be struggling with the “issues” that we all face in various ways or going with what’s trendy and popular, but when we treat others as we’d like to be treated we’ll touch and change lives, offer encouragement to others and see success stories that remind us of why one modern songwriter said in praise of the Lord, “You grace and mercy brought me through.”