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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

An Unexpected Friend

Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.
1 Sam 16:7

The moment “Jean” walked into the room, I decided I didn’t like her. Taking in her appearance, I thought, I know your type. You’re shallow.

Mentally I groaned at the prospect of rubbing elbows with her in our small group Bible study for the next ten weeks. As the group’s facilitator, I had a big problem. I knew God wasn’t going to work through me as long as I disliked this woman.

When I got home, I began to pray for a new attitude toward Jean.

As we met each week and got to know one another, I learned that Jean hadn’t experienced an easy life. She’d suffered some tragic losses and been through more than her share of disappointments. She still faced difficult circumstances. In spite of her sad past and uncertain future, she loved and trusted Jesus. She’d even hung on to a warm and generous nature. By the end of the study I appreciated and liked Jean a lot.

During those ten weeks I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t form an opinion of anyone based on their looks. My grandmother used to say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. You’ve got to find out what’s inside.

I should have remembered the Bible teaches us not to be influenced by appearance. When God sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king, the prophet thought tall, handsome Eliab would be the best choice. God told Samuel he was wrong to evaluate people by the way they look. The Lord said, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

I also learned that God can change my feelings and prejudices if I’ll let Him. He did it with Jean. He’s done it many times since then.

I’ve been in several more Bible studies with Jean, and I’m always glad to see her. We have more in common than I ever imagined. She’s my friend.

 Father, teach me to love and accept those who are different from me.


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