“…for man looks at the outward appearance…”– 1 Samuel 16:7
Paul was probably one of the few men who ever lived so unselfishly for others. He attempted to gauge all of his actions on how they affected those around him. His sole purpose was to lead them to the Messiah, not to himself. We read where the Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Notice he did not say, “follow me?” No, that command was only reserved for the Master Himself! Sometimes we find ourselves following a servant of Christ more than Jesus Himself.
Samuel, the last of the judges, was a man dedicated to God’s service in the temple at a young age. He heard God’s voice call him into service and heard from the Lord directly. His ministry expanded over all of Israel, and everyone knew who Samuel was. When he entered into a village, people were afraid and even awestruck because of the authority given to him. He was undoubtedly and unmistakably God’s anointed. Even after all of this, however, Samuel still made the wrong choice.
After the kingdom had been stripped from Saul by the Lord, God sent Samuel to Jesse’s house in search of the next king. Samuel looked upon Eliab, David’s brother, and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” The Lord corrected Samuel, and the accusation against him was that he was only looking at the outer appearance. Samuel was anointed, called by God, and revered by men, and yet he still chose incorrectly. He is human, and he is flawed.
Like Samuel, the Corinthians were looking at outward appearances in some ways. They aligned themselves with Cephas, Apollos, or Paul. However, in their alignment with a man and his ministry, they actually divided the body of Christ. Many of us in the church still do that today. At one time we were merely imitating a man that imitated Christ only to find ourselves following a man in place of Christ. If you find yourself talking and applauding the man and his ministry more than you do the Savior, we are in danger of following a fallible man who can and will make the wrong decisions. Ensure you are following Christ, for He alone is a firm foundation on which we can stand!
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”– Edward Mote