Thursday, March 29, 2012

Keeping their Hearts in Focus

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

"Are you having a boy or a girl?" ~~~ "I am so thankful that the tests came back showing that our odds are in favor of not having a baby with Down Syndrome." ~~~ "What long eyelashes! He looks just as beautiful now as when he was born!" ~~~ "Watch out. That little boy is going to be a heart-breaker."

These are just a few comments I've heard from various people in the last month. None of these comments are sinful, but they do reflect a very common focus we place upon appearance. Our society doesn't wait until our kids are teens or even tweens to start subtly infecting them (and us as parents) with the lie that appearance is everything. In fact, the focus on appearance creeps up even among believers. Even godly men like the prophet Samuel needed a reminder.

Do we as Christian parents ever get caught up placing more emphasis on our children's appearance than their heart formation?

With today's technology, parents can see images of their babies while still in utero! These photos are priceless treasures, proudly displayed at the office, on the internet, or on our refrigerators. Even though the images are distorted and sometimes alien-like representations of the baby's future looks, we parade them around with pride because of the love we have for these precious ones God has entrusted to us. God moves our hearts to see beyond their appearance into what they can become. Healthy or not, boy or girl, head full of hair or full-on baldy, God has given us the opportunity to help form and shape the heart of another human being. What greater privilege could there be?

When as a new parent, I was thinking about my hopes and dreams for our firstborn, I felt God impressing upon my heart to pray for a heart of compassion and a spirit of Truth for him. To be honest, the implications of this ongoing prayer request scare me a bit! It is hard to think about the reality that my children are growing up in a world that will make it increasingly difficult for them to stand up for what is right while walking the line between loving the sinner, but hating the sin. When those fears arise, I am reassured of God's promise that the heart of the matter is, well, just that - the heart.
Ultimately, it is not about how eloquent a speaker or how talented an athlete our kids become. "The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at...the outward appearance..." What matters to God is what lies in the heart, and thankfully, that is where He does business. When by His grace, His Spirit lives in our hearts, we are able to experience transformation, to love, forgive, and share beyond human capacity.

Interestingly enough, later on down in 1 Samuel, it's revealed that David "
was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features" (v. 12). So never fear for those of you with good-looking, godly kids out there! God can choose to use the child with strength, fine appearance, or handsome features for His great purposes just as much as He can use the child with physical challenges or awkwardness. He makes a point of reminding us that it is the heart that He is interested in. No physical exam or beauty contest is needed for the task of representing the Most High God!

Dear God,
Thank you for providing us with the humbling position of being parents. We ask for Your power to influence our children in ways that reinforce your desires and plans for their lives. Please help us encourage their hearts, especially when the world is hurtful and challenging. Keep us focused in your Word and reliant upon Your Spirit for truth, strength, and daily transformation.
In Jesus' name,

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