“There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” 1 Samuel 9:1-2
“They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’ Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!” 1 Samuel 10:23-24
Racehorses. When someone is in the business of buying a racehorse, they inspect every inch of that animal’s body. For a potential buyer, it’s important to know the pedigree. (Breeding matters). The bone structure, muscle tone and the coat are also determining factors of the horse’s worth. They may ask to see the horse in action. And finally, the overall appearance is judged.
It’s unfortunate that this is how many people look at their own children. Unless you are on a remote island, you’ve probably been exposed to the promotion of a child. When you meet another parent, how do they present their child? Sometimes it’s like they are trying to show their child as a potential sire or dame. You might hear the words “advanced” or “perfect” thrown around. You might hear about their grades, their awards, or how much people like them at school. If you are lucky, the child is from a long line of advanced and perfect people proving that breeding does matter.
Saul was like a fine racehorse. He fit the bill for the kind of king the people of Israel wanted. He was tall, handsome and had money. The people swooned and he was given the throne. Except, we all know how that story ends. Saul was not who he appeared to be. Saul was violent, unstable and indecisive. He was cowardly. Saul may have been the people’s king, but he was not the man for the job. To be fair, God chose Saul. He poured His Spirit upon him. Why? Romans 1 speaks of God turning people over to their desires. Sometimes, we get exactly what we ask for and it’s not always in line with God’s will for our lives. He allows our decisions to stand and either saves us from the consequences, tempers the consequences or we feel the full brunt of our decision. The people wanted a king based on the criteria of a racehorse. He looked strong, handsome, and worthwhile of the crown. He seemed to have the perfect resume.
Our children are gifts from God. We don’t own them. God in His wisdom and grace hands these precious souls to us and charges us with raising them according to His commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind. Then, love your neighbors. Parents are charged with character building and heart building. A child’s abilities, intelligence, athleticism, appearance and breeding all fall under the sovereignty of God. We must certainly encourage these gifts. We must teach them about health and nutrition so that they can take of their bodies. We should give them opportunities to learn and grow in the ways God intends.
There is a line, parents. A line between presenting your child to the Lord and presenting your child to the public for inspection and approval.
1 Samuel 16:11-13
“So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
After Saul started believing his own press, he saved a pagan king and built himself a monument in his own honor. Saul’s kingship was taken away and given to a kid. David was not the first born. He was the the youngest. He was a lowly shepherd. As scripture points out, David was glowing with health and handsome. But still just a kid from Bethlehem. God’s choice of David fulfilled prophecy and pointed to the coming of Jesus. But, from appearances, David wasn’t exactly the right choice according to the criteria of the people. But, as God told Samuel , “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
The Lord looks at the heart. That statement is my parenting motto. The Lord looks at the hearts of my children. It’s both terrifying and beautiful. Terrifying because my husband and I are in charge of leading them. Beautiful because God created them to be His own.
Our culture tells us that our kids will be known by appearance, abilities and talent. For Christians we should want their actions to magnify Christ. And when Christian culture meets the world, we feel that our children deserve a pat on the back. Remember this– even pagans make moral decisions sometimes. Even those who don’t belong to God get it right every now and then. I want my daughters to be the women God has called them to be. I want Him to see their hearts and one day call them good and faithful servants. Do I get it right every time? No. I don’t always focus on character. But, as I walk this walk, I am more likely to show them that actions matter and abilities are God-given. I commend them quietly for their accomplishments and try (Oh, Lord, I try) to point them to their Heavenly Father. Finally, I pray that they acknowledge that their identity is found in Christ Jesus. It’s not about what they do or how they look. It’s about their hearts.
Believing parents, I ask you to look at your actions and words. Are you promoting your child? Do you focus on abilities and appearance more than the state of their heart? Are grades or class rank more important than their character? Do you see them as souls, gifts from God? Humans are shallow. The Fall took our eyes off of God. We must be aware of this. Our culture is a caste system and we are constantly jockeying for a spot. We like to win. We like to be first. First chair, first in line, prima ballerinas and Heisman trophy winners are the aspirations we have for ourselves. And if we can’t do it, we place those aspirations upon our children and push and promote and ignore the most important thing of all.
We want our children to know God, enjoy God, worship God and tell others about Him.
The Lord looks at the heart. We should, too.