God Looks at the Heart

Monday, April 4, 2011

This is the second of the two devotions I mentioned last week.

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The first meeting between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy breeds instant contempt. When Elizabeth sits on the sidelines for want of a partner, their host suggests that Darcy dance with her. Apparently not caring whether Elizabeth overhears him, Darcy replies, "'She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.'"

In Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, both main characters display each of the traits that make up the title. Darcy thinks himself above Elizabeth in station and breeding, and he judges her by her often foolish family. When he finds he cannot ignore his feelings for her, he proposes, but he tells her that he is doing it against his better judgment. His words and actions show that he still believes himself superior to her.

Elizabeth, in turn, prides herself on her discernment of other people's characters, yet she judges Darcy by his unflattering comments and haughty demeanor. The prejudice that begins with first impressions grows when she meets Lieutenant Wickham, who tells her that Darcy refused to give him the living promised by Darcy's father before the older man died.

As the novel progresses, the reader realizes that Elizabeth and Darcy have misjudged each other. Elizabeth has reversed the roles of hero and villain, and she discovers Darcy's generous and kind heart only after Wickham elopes with her younger sister.

In the meantime, Darcy meets Elizabeth touring his estate. Her foolish mother and younger sisters are not with her, which gives him a chance to get to know her for herself. As he does, he realizes that her breeding and intelligence are as good as or better than those of his own friends and relatives.

The two main characters learn a valuable lesson: don't judge people by outward appearances. This is the same lesson that Samuel learned when God told him to anoint one of Jesse's sons as Israel's second king. The oldest son, Eliab, looked the part, so Samuel thought he was the one. But God rejected each of Jesse's sons until he came to the youngest, David.

You may think you are too young or too ordinary or too sinful to serve God, but you are wrong. What the world thinks of you doesn't matter to Him. He looks straight into your heart.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

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