Man Looks On the Outward Appearance…
There is some incredibly helpful insight hidden within plain sight in the middle of one of the Old Testament’s most oft-quoted passages. The passage comes in the context of Samuel going to the house of Jesse to anoint the new King of Israel. Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and although they all looked quite impressive, they were not the one that the LORD had chosen to be King.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV)
Typically, this passage is used to point out the all-important truth that God sees our heart. He looks beyond the physical reality into the spiritual and emotional reality. He knows when we are being authentic and when we are being fake.
This is really important for us to remember as worshipers who are on stage leading God’s people into an awareness of the awesome presence of God! We may be able to fool the audience into thinking we are authentic worshipers, but we will never be able to fool God. He looks on the heart!
Tuck this truth into your back pocket and never forget it. Of course it is important that we are real before God! Of course He sees right through us when we are simply offering lip service though our hearts are actually far from Him. Of course the omniscient God knows all things. However, did you catch the other important truth within this passage?
Man looks on the outward appearance…
Man is not capable of looking at the heart. Only God truly knows the heart!
Do you know what that means? It means that, although God knows our hearts, man can only know what is happening on the inside of us when we allow it to affect the outside of us.
In other words, if we are filled with joy by the fact that God loves us, God knows that… but our joy can only be known to man when it expresses itself in something like an exuberant smile!
If we are overcome with a desire to submit to Jesus as our LORD, God knows that… but our desire to submit can only be known to man when it expresses itself in an expression such as arms raised!
When our hearts burn within us due to the excitement of knowing God is with us and He is in control, God knows that… but our excitement can only be known to man when it expresses itself in actions like shouting, jumping, clapping, or dancing.
You get the picture.
As worshipers and Worship Leaders who have been called to lead others in authentically expressing their worship to our amazing, awesome, omniscient God, we have to remember that they cannot see what is happening in our hearts. Man looks on the outward appearance. (This truth should also humbly remind us that more may be going on in their hearts than what we are able to see.)
First and foremost, yes, we need to get our hearts right before God. We will never be able to fool Him (not that we wanted to, anyway). Remember to keep that truth in your back pocket.
But when you are put on stage, you are not put on stage for God’s sake. He sees every worshiper in perfect view whether they are on stage or not. Therefore, when you are put on stage, it is for the sake of man! They are looking at you! They are following your lead! They are wanting to know what is happening in your heart, and there is really only one way for them to find that out.
Man looks on the outward appearance… Let them see what is happening in your heart.
Artwork provided by my good friend, Brooke Gehman, an authentic and wonderful man of God, devoted follower of Christ, and an amazing husband and father. Brooke is a gifted Worship Leader, an incredible artist, and a Potter by trade (check out his website).