Posted by: Jo | July 19, 2013

Looking Beyond Outward Appearances

“…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)

image When I was a student at Regent Graduate School of Theology, I happened to sit next to a young girl in one of the classes I was taking, and after talking to her at the break I discovered she was living a few streets away from me and I offered to take her home and if she wished I could also pick her up each day during the course. This young lady had overcome incredible obstacles in her life. She had been born with Cerebral Palsy and subsequently both her legs were damaged. She was able to walk, but needed to have braces and on her arms were attached metal poles which she was able to propel herself forward slowly by swinging from one side to the other. During the weeks that followed I became very fond of her and was constantly awed at the way she accepted her handicap, but one day she allowed me to see the inward pain not visible to those around. This particular day she was getting into the car and as she smiled I exclaimed, “You have such a beautiful face when you smile!’. She replied quite bitterly, “Nobody notices my face, only these.” and she pointed at her steel supporting canes. Just for a moment I felt her pain as I realised how often we look at outward appearances instead of discovering the real person beneath the exterior.

Many years later, I experienced in a much milder way, how the general public view any abnormality, and tend to focus on that rather than to see the real person. I had brokenimage my pelvis in a fall and needed a wheel chair for several weeks while it healed. Mine was a temporary disability, but what a lesson I learned while I needed to be pushed where ever I went! I heard sighs of irritation as others tried to rush past and felt their exasperation if I had to maneuver slowly through doors. I felt as though shop assistants spoke in simple terms to me as if my brain had been damaged as well as my pelvis. I was made aware that I was a nuisance if I was taken to a busy mall. All of which made me much more sensitive to others when I finally was able to walk without assistance.

How can we, as those who love the Lord, learn to look beyond outward appearances?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

Jesus expounded on the original love commandment by saying, not just love one another, but love like I love you. When we humbly agree that the Lord loves us not because we are all put together with no blemishes, but just as we are, we are more willing to accept those around us, not judging by outward appearances, but looking for that inner child loved by the Heavenly Father.

image Jean Vanier, broadcasted a beautiful message under this title, “Seeing God in Others.”

“Love is not just to do something for someone – love is not a sort of sentimentality and kissing each other and so on. Love is to enter into a covenant – to know that you accept me as I am, that you see my gift, but also see my wound.”

Seeing others’ wounds and accepting whatever they may be, can be challenging, but remembering how we are loved unconditionally by Jesus, helps us to be more understanding of others and helps us look beyond what our eyes see and strive to also see those hidden gifts.


  1. Thanks Jo. It’s strange but when we really know people we don’t see any blemishes. God bless.. Mary.


  2. Thank you Jo. Another very meaningful reflection. We can all relate to these thoughts of yours.


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