Do you judge by appearances?
I’m not talking about sizing up a person based on what they’re wearing or what their hair, face or skin looks like, although that can be included. I’m talking about judging your circumstances based on what you see.
On Sunday, my pastor/boss/second dad preached a stellar message on this and you (yes, you) need to read/listen to/watch it. You can do all of that here. In the meantime, read his introduction below. I promise there is something in there for you.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)
Friday night John Piper shared at the Cross Conference Simulcast something that I had not heard about the 21 Christians martyred last month in Libya by ISIS terrorists. I thought it so wonderful and because it beautifully introduces my subject that you should hear it. A few days after the brutal murder of these men a brother to two of the martyred victims, Beshir Kamel, called into a Arabic Christian television program and thanked the Islamic State for not turning off the audio during the beheading so the declaration of these men’s faith could be heard.
He said, “ISIS gave us more than we asked when they didn’t edit out the part where they declared their faith and called upon Jesus Christ. ISIS helped us strengthen our faith.” He added that the families of the men were “congratulating one another” and not in despair: “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he told the host of the television program. Beshir continued: “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.”
When asked about forgiving the Muslim terrorists for murdering his brothers, Beshir relayed a conversation he had with his mother. She shared how she would react if she saw one of the men who killed her sons. She said “she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason [her sons] entered the kingdom of heaven.”
Now we know why Jesus said, “Don’t judge by appearances.” When those men were martyred we thought, How senseless a tragedy that was. We judged by what we heard and what we could see that this was an act of hostility and murder and savage barbarianism—which it is. But what we could not see unless we were listening to the Spirit is what God can do with barbarianism. What Satan meant for evil God meant for good.
The same day the video was broadcasted by ISIS, the president of the Egyptian Bible Society decided that a tract needed to be quickly published showing two roads. On the front cover of that tract is a picture of the two rows, one row of black-cloaked terrorists and one row of their victims clad in orange jumpsuits. The tract says, “The Two Roads,” the black road of despair and death that leads to eternity without God or the orange road leading to life and power. More than 1.6 million of those Gospel tracts have been distributed in the last two weeks in a predominantly Muslim area. Do not judge according to appearance because you will often be wrong. What we think is devastating and tragic is not the final word. The final word does not come from the circumstances that you and I see and hear. Thank God that is not the final word.
God has this uncanny ability to orchestrate seven billion lives at the same time and every molecule in those seven billion bodies and make it all work to a glorious plan that He purposed before He made a single one of us. Jesus says to you and me today, “Don’t judge by what you see and what you hear, judge a righteous judgment.” Never say, “This is the end,” because you don’t know what the final end is, only God has determined that. Learn how to see like God sees. Learn to hear what God says about a given circumstance.
I want to speak for a few minutes today on the danger of appearances, assessing, determining circumstances by simply what you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.