Power is a valuable commodity in our world. Those who wield the most power frequently receive the highest honors and rewards; those with the least are often overlooked or cast aside as being losers, unimportant and unacceptable. The wealthy and powerful receive special favors and attention from people seeking to obtain something from them or to elevate their own importance. Human beings judge each other by physical appearance, level of education, position, financial status and possessions, and personal accomplishments. But a tornado or fire can destroy possessions in a moment, and a powerful position can be usurped by another rising star. Old age and illness may steal a person's standing in the community, and the favor he once received will disappear like smoke. In many people's eyes, a person is only as good as his last success.
We are so accustomed to this worldly perspective, and it has permeated our thinking to such an extent, that we do not fully realize how different God's value system is from ours.
God does not view people according to this world's standard. He told the Old Testament prophet, Samuel, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
In his epistle, James urges believers not to show favoritism to the wealthy. If someone comes into their meeting wearing expensive clothes, and they show him special attention while ignoring another person who is poor and shabbily dressed, James says, "Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:4). He reminds his readers to "keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'" (2:8).
Jesus told the rich young man who had tried to obey God's commandments since he was a child, "‘One thing you lack. . . . Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me'" (Mark 10:21). But the young man prized his possessions more than he valued the Lord.
God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength, to value Him above all else.
He wants to have free reign in our heart so that He can perform heart surgery, making our heart like His perfect heart. He sees us with all of our weaknesses, imperfections, and failures, and yet He loves us anyway. In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul urges us, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
If we harbor envy and selfish ambition in our heart, we will show favoritism to those who can further our goals. But if our heart is surrendered to God's perfect will, we will value what He values. Instead of judging others by this world's standards, we will see them through God's eyes of love and mercy.
© by Howard W. Stevens