Summary: A sermon primarily aimed at the children, explaining how we judge people based on what they seem to be, but God judges people on what they can become in Him.
(Although this message is meant for the entire congregation, it is primarily aimed at the younger children, teaching them that it is ultimately more important what a person is like on the inside rather than what they appear to be like on the outside. And to illustrate this point, we will have the children serve cups of hot chocolate to the adults just prior to giving this message.)
A preacher saw a truck in front of him as he drove down the road one day. That truck was speeding and passing cars. It was getting ready to make a sharp right turn to get on the freeway, and wasn’t slowing down at all.
The driver of the truck had long hair; he wore sunglasses; he was talking on a cell phone; and he wore a black t-shirt. The preacher just knew the driver of the truck was putting himself, and everybody around him, in danger. Just about that time, the truck did a wild U-turn and begin to slow down quickly. The driver jumped out, and sure enough, the preacher noticed the man’s arms were covered with tattoos. The preacher decided that the man was not a good man to be around.
Let me ask you a question. If you had been there that day, and saw how ‘reckless’ this driver was driving, and then you saw him dressed like that and having all kinds of tattoos, would you have liked him or disliked him? Most people would have disliked him, based on nothing more than how he looked and what he seemed to be doing.
Based on outward appearances, this man looked like he was a troublemaker; someone who didn’t care about anybody but himself. But as the preacher watched him, it became apparent why he was driving so fast and why he made a U-turn where he shouldn’t have. There was a car lying on its side, near the ditch. Smoke was coming out of it, and the driver of the truck ran over and pulled a woman and two small children from the car.
The man actually cared very much about others, didn’t he? He turned out to be a hero. And the preacher found out later that the man worked as an Emergency Medical Team member. He drove an ambulance and worked to help others every day. So much for our deciding whether others are good or bad based on just how they look to us.
Have you ever heard the expression; ‘Do not judge a book by its cover?’ That means we should never decide what a person is really like by just looking at how they dress or whether they are poor or rich. The only way to really tell what a person is like on the inside is to spend enough time to get to know them.
I remember when my children were just toddlers. On Christmas morning, we would give them their gifts, and I always noticed something very strange. When they were handed a gift, they would invariably get interested in the paper and bows the presents were wrapped in, and temporarily forget about the present inside the wrapping! Why would they do that? They did that because they were only focused on what they could see with their eyes. They were babies. Later, as they grew older, they just tore right through the wrapping to see how fast they could get to the actual gift inside.
And that describes how Christians are. When we are baby Christians, we look at the outside of a person instead of inside a person. We look at how they dress or how they talk, but we do not look at what kind of a person they are. And we make the decision to either like them or not like them based on what we see, not what we feel.
But as we grow to maturity in Jesus Christ, we take on more of His ways. We start looking at what’s in a person’s heart before deciding what kind of person they are. We always go with first impressions, and first impressions are always made by looking at a person’s outside instead of looking at their inside. There is even a Bible verse that tells us what we do, in comparison to how God does it.
How many of you have been to a doctor? Then you know that doctors checks you out to make sure you are healthy. And they use many tools to help them. They need to check your insides, too, but since they can’t see inside you, they use things like stethoscopes and x-rays. That is because they can only ‘see’ what’s on the outside.
We can only see what’s on the outside, too, but we all-too-often forget about looking on the inside. But God is different than we are. He looks at the inside because He knows that is the most important part of a person; what’s on the inside of them.