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- Jacob Ninan
Look at the early part of the lives of Esau and Jacob, and we would imagine that Esau was such a nice boy, industrious, willing to face dangers, able to provide for his family, etc., compared to Jacob spending time at home as his mother's pet, and crooked and cunning in his manipulations. We may not consider Jacob either as a man of talents or as one of dependable character. But in the foreknowledge of God Jacob was the one He loved, and Esau was hated. Later on, when Esau manifested his indifference to God or long term blessings, and when Jacob broke down and humbled himself before God, we understand what God knew earlier.
Would we have imagined that Jesus would not be impressed with all the things Martha did for Him but He would be happier with Mary who sat and listened to Him? Would any office have employed impulsive Peter with a foot in his mouth to lead their projects? But he was the one the Lord could depend on to lead the first movement of His church, after he was broken. We all would agree that in the early days of Saul he would never have come to our mind as a potential candidate to be the greatest apostle of his time.
There are many reasons for this. One is that God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance (1Sa.16:7). Many times someone's outward behaviour impresses us and we don't even bother to look inside, and then we are surprised when someone who is not so impressive comes out with greater accomplishments (from the point of view of eternity). Another thing is that God can see the end from the beginning, and we can only see the present, and we mostly look at someone's past to assess his potential. We are unable to think of people as they would be after God has worked with them. Another point is that we tend to think in terms of someone's natural abilities, and write off some as being incapable of doing anything great. We are then surprised to see what the Spirit of God is able to do through such 'small' people through His anointing which the clever and capable people could not achieve. Many times we also assess someone's worth in terms of what he has 'accomplished' before our eyes, not realising that there are spiritual victories someone wins in his personal life as well as his ministry for others that are not so obvious outside. We also have the problem of ignoring the prophet we are familiar with, while making much of someone else whom we have only heard but not known personally (Mt.13:57). What a lot of surprises we are going to have when we stand before God in heaven and the books are read out. Many who have been first here would be last, and many who have been ignored or sidelined here would receive great honour.
There are two obvious lessons we can learn from this. Don't be so quick to make an assessment of others based on their outward performance (1Co.4:5). Try to see their hearts. More importantly, make sure that all that we do for God is of eternal value and not just something that will impress others here.