I have a watch sitting on the counter in the kitchen. Unlike my other watches, this one is still shiny with the crystal not scratched or marred in any way. I actually bought it for a gift for someone else, but when my “good” watched died, I decided I needed this watch more than the other person! (Truth be known, I bought the other person something else!) It is not an expensive watch, but it is nice.
As good as this watch looks, it has a problem: it is only correct two times in the day! That’s right, this watch has stopped. The likely culprit is a dead battery, but for now this pretty piece of jewelry is useless. Something is wrong on the inside.
I could not help but think of all the people around me who seem just fine but inside there is a problem. People put on masks, dress up in fine clothes and don a smile, but inside they are hurting. Some are grieving; some are frightened. Some are confused; some are lonely. Some are physically hurting, while others are hurting emotionally (broken marriage, rebellious child, failed business, infertility, debt, loss of faith, anger, etc.). Scripture reminds us that “people judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NLB).
What this tells me is that I have no clue about what is happening inside another person, and he/she may not be able to tell me (nor want to). Some people are dealing with a truly broken inner life that only God knows about. So, if it is true that many of the people around me are dealing with brokenness on the inside, how should I respond to those around me who seem unkind, unfriendly, distant or hurtful?
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Broken people sometimes do not respond well, and they may hurt you. If we can look beyond the outward appearances and see within, get a glimpse of their brokenness, then we can show kindness and compassion to them – even as Christ has shown this to us. The grace we show to others today will likely come back to us in our time of need.
– Pastor Gary