But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
Leah surveyed the bags strewn across her bed. It had been a good day of school shopping. Mom didn’t buy her everything she wanted, but she did get some new things to wear to school. She already had her “first day” outfit picked out. A black flirty skirt and a cap-sleeved t-shirt. Her new ballerina flats would be perfect with it.
Leah texted her best friend Macy to see what she was going to wear. When Macy texted back that she planned on a way more casual first day outfit, Leah dumped all her bags to see if she had anything similar. It was important on that first day not to stand out. She didn’t want to be the only one among her friends who was wearing a dress. There was nothing in the bags that would work.
“Mom!” she hollered down the hall. “We have to go back to the stores. All my friends are wearing shorts and tennis shoes on the first day. I don’t have anything like that.”
Mom placed the bookmark in her Bible to speak with Leah. The Lord had her reading just where she needed to be this morning. She had been reading about the Pharisees and how Jesus criticized them for being clean only on the outside.
“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of things that you got by cheating others and pleasing only yourselves. Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup can be truly clean. Matthew 23:25-26 (ICB)
What a great illustration to use for Leah. To show her that it doesn’t matter what she looks like on the outside. What matters is what is in her heart. And Mom knew Leah had a good heart. She knew that she believed in God’s promises and was walking together with her in praying for Dad to return to the Lord and to their family.
Mom drew Leah close and talked about her good heart. She talked about Leah’s kindness and generosity, how she always treated people with respect. She reminded Leah about how she was showing unconditional love to her dad by praying for him. She talked about her faith in the promises God had made to their family. She talked about the Jesus light that shone in Leah’s heart. And she asked Leah to turn the inside out this year.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
Leah knew that Mom was right. It WAS what was on the inside that counted. With a heavy sigh, she headed back to her bedroom. Maybe there was something she had from last year she could wear. Leah rummaged in her drawers and came up with a cute t-shirt and pair of jean shorts that she hadn’t worn for a long time.
Leah’s mom remembered what it was like when she was younger and how important that first day of school was. And because she, too, had a good heart on the inside, she made Leah an offer. If she would forfeit her allowance for a few weeks, they could go to the discount shoe store and check out some new tennis shoes. Leah gave her mom a grateful hug and headed to the car. Mom was right. It’s what’s on the inside that matters. And this year she was going to let the light inside her shine even brighter.
A Stander in Nebraska