Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

“Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.” (Proverbs 25:8 in The Message)

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude, offering the angels a small space in the cold basement instead of the guest room. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.” The next night, the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. The next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, “How could you have allowed this to happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die. ” The older angel replied: “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t be able to find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Please understand…things aren’t always what they seem.”

When Jesus was in Jerusalem, He pointed this out this type of contradiction to those whom He had called. “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God” (Luke 21:5). On the surface, they saw its external beauty, but He told them – “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). The disciples failed to see what was really behind it: spiritual bankruptcy, hypocrisy, oppression, rejection of Christ and the Gospel, and Christ’s impending death at the hands of the religious authorities. That’s why Jesus warned them to beware of the false teachers who would come and proclaim that they were the promised Messiah. “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them” (Luke 21:8). He knew that just like the temple’s beauty hid its ugly secrets – the false teachers with their appearances, methods and teachings would hide their true motives as well.

When we judge situations by the world’s standards, we often miss the hidden beauty of what lies right before us.  In 2009, a lady took the stage of the competition show Britain’s Got Talent. In comparison to the other participants, she was plain-looking. Judging by her appearance, no one expected much when she raised the microphone to sing “I Dreamed a Dream.” As she began her performance – the judges were spellbound, taken with the loveliness and power of the voice that filled the auditorium. Jumping to their feet, those in the audience were surprised that such a riveting voice came from such an unlikely source. The performer, Susan Boyle, rose to fame and soon recorded the UK’s best-selling debut album of all- time. Scotland’s daily newspaper, The Herald, described Boyle’s story as “a modern parable and a rebuke to people’s tendency to judge others based on their physical appearance.” Jesus Himself said that we must “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).

The best T.V. shows and movies are usually ones that have a plot with an unexpected twist. When this happens in real life, we must evaluate the circumstances. With today’s instantaneous sound bites and edited video clips – it has become far-too-easy to twist the truth, frequently prompting one to jump to a conclusion without knowing all of the facts. Sometimes what appears to be accurate on the surface emerges from an attempt to bias or enrage one individual or group of people against another. We would be wise if we followed this advice: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19). A faithful Christian is discerning of what he hears and is careful in finding judgment.  We must be ever-vigilant that we are not being deceived by a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). There are plenty of them out there. For a wise angel once said . . . “things aren’t always what they seem.”

REFLECTION: In what situations do you find it easy to jump to conclusions? How do you weigh supposed factual information when it comes to hearsay about people or situations? Are there ways you can gain increased spiritual maturity be exercising the ability to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14)?

1 thought on “Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

  1. Elizabeth Tam

    Dear Lookup, It is human nature easily to Judge the book by its cover. Let the Holy Spirit who dwells in us give us wisdom and discernment so that we are not be deceived by the external appearance of things and events. Thank you for sharing this article with us. May God bless you.



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