Let's Go Back to the Bible

Judging According to Appearance

Jesus commanded us to judge when He said, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). When we judge according to appearance, we can easily miss the real truth.

God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king to replace evil King Saul, and he failed to understand this truth. When Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse’s firstborn, he said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him” (1 Sam. 16:6). The Lord responded to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (16:7). God rejected seven sons of Jesse until David, the youngest was chosen as the next king.

Consider how easily hypocrites use this weakness of judging by appearance to deceive. Jesus described hypocrites in various ways to call attention to how they seek to hide their evil hearts by appearing to be holy. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matt 23:25). He also described them as being like beautifully adorned tombs, “…but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27-28). They prayed long prayers standing visibly on street corners. They gave great sums to help the needy but not until they had sounded the trumpet to call attention to themselves. Judge not according to appearances!

Some want to judge a church by how many notable people attend. Compare the ornate temples of the first centuries with the places Christians met, often in secrecy. “You see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world…” (1 Cor. 1:26-27). The Lord also said, “Listen my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 2:5).

So, when you look at others remember what Samuel forgot—man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. A person’s true nature is not determined solely by his outward appearance as a Christian. Remember that Jesus judges us by how we regard the least in the kingdom (Matt. 25:40). Righteousness is determined by the heart of a man, not by how he makes himself to appear.

As you make judgments about other’s worth, use righteous judgments—look on the inside!