Things aren’t always what they appear to be. That is why the Bible instructs us to exercise discernment. Rather than accepting things at face value, we are told to put them to the test. This we do by running everything through the filter of God’s Word, “To the law and to the testimony; if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
The standard test is twofold. The message is tested by the Word of God (content). The messenger is tested by his or her lifestyle (character). Jesus said, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). To avoid deception, exercise discernment.
That is the negative side of this article. Looks can be deceiving, so watch out. Now for the positive side which can be expressed by the statement, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” While the proverb doesn’t come from the Bible, it presents a wise rule for living.
In May 2012, an unknown singer named Susan Boyle took the stage in the final round of Britain’s Got Talent. At first, the judges and members of the audience were shocked by her appearance and behavior. She didn’t look like an award-winning singer, and she certainly didn’t act like one. But moments later, judges and audience alike sat in stunned amazement when Susan Boyle unleashed her amazing voice singing, “I Dreamed a Dream.”
We serve a God who delights in hiding treasure in earthen vessels. As Paul explained to the Corinthians, God chooses things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chooses things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chooses things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and uses them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
So remember the negative side and practice discernment. Then remember the positive side and be encouraged by the fact that with God things can turn out completely different from what they appear to be. Out of defeat can come victory. Out of death can come life.
Pastor Todd Weston