You’ve heard the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Of course, this is referring to the fact that, what you see on the outside of any given person, or at least what you think you see in your limited perception, is often, if not always, very different from what you really find when you get to know this person.  I have found this to be true so often.  Some of the people I’ve met that dressed very nicely, didn't smoke, drink, or curse, and carried themselves confidently turned out to be some of the most rotten people you would ever meet.  Conversely, many people that I’ve met over the years who turned out to be very humble and loyal people with strong moral values were very prickly or fierce on the outside, with rough manners, perhaps salty language, and tobacco use.  I’ve learned to be patient with people and to never be put off by their rough exterior or surface manners, and I’ve subsequently reaped a bounty of good friends over the years.  Many of these very rough people were soldiers I served with.  You might easily be put off with their rough manners and rough language if you ever met them.  But you would have missed out on a “diamond in the rough,” because these folks have hearts of gold.  They are very loyal and brave people serving their country in some of the most God-forsaken places, never complaining, always getting the mission done against all odds.

The military is filled with such rough people.  But these are the kind of tough and courageous people that you want in your military services.  You may have heard this quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."  I’ve served with so many of these people.  Many of them come from rough homes or grew up under very rough conditions.  Maybe they have very salty language and smoke, dip snuff, or drink heavily.  I’m sure the “experts” would label them with all sorts of unkind labels, but those judgmental people are the same unappreciative ones that benefit from the many sacrifices of these courageous troops in all of our services.  I’ve seen too many such people to be distracted by surface manners.  I always try to look on the heart of the person the same way my Loving Heavenly Father does (1 Samuel 16:7).   This is also why I’m not too certain about the importance of a pristine life – no cursing, no drinking, no tobacco, living in legalistic perfection, but neglecting the weightier matters of the heart. 

As I was growing up in the wild and wooly 70’s, I would often share a joint or a few beers with other pastor’s sons.  There’s always been a suburban myth about preacher’s children being some of the most rebellious people.  I discovered that there was a grain of truth behind this myth.  These kids grew up in homes of pristine legalistic perfection with no cursing, no alcohol, no tobacco, etc., but these were also homes where there was very little of the love that their father’s were preaching to everyone else.  So often, preachers put copious amounts of effort into their churches and give their best effort for everyone else, but then they neglect their families, giving very little effort or attention to their children, perhaps reasoning to themselves that this work at home is unimportant or that “they are doing God’s work,” so they are allowed to take some shortcuts, cut some corners.  This is a very common problem, but it is not in keeping with real Biblical morality.  In 1 Timothy 3, we are told that the men serving in church leadership are supposed to “rule their homes well.” 

To rule well would require that these men give as much effort into their families as they do into their church work.  God does not give special dispensation to anyone to neglect their homes and their families.  In 1 Timothy 5:8, we are told, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
  Yet, as I have found so many times over the years, so many people do not provide for those in their home.  They want to do grand things for God "out there" in the far-flung places on the globe, but they do not want to do the hard, humble, important work of raising their families well.  I think that this reveals their real motivations, not the Love of God, but rather their own pride or self-aggrandizement. 

Now, I do not wish to give the wrong impression about such things as heavy drinking or use of tobacco.  Some people feel very strongly about these things.  I worked with a man at UPS in the mid-80's who grew up in a home where his father abused alcohol and also abused his family.  This young man felt very strongly about not ever drinking alcohol himself.  Some, like this young man, have reason to avoid these things.  Moreover, we have to remember that, after we are saved by Jesus, then the body becomes the temple that houses the Holy Spirit within us (1 Corinthians 6:19).  That being the case, we should use caution and moderation in all things that affect the body.  But this is a subject that needs to be worked out in your personal relationship with God as He reveals to you what is "profitable" and what is not (1 Corinthians 6:12).  The Bible also urges caution in our habits so that we do not offend others or cause them to stumble (Romans 14:13).  Nonetheless, I am careful not to make broad-brush judgments of others in their personal habits, nor to assume that the perfection of surface manners means that there is a good heart underneath.  Nor would I assume the converse, that certain manners on the surface means that there is a bad heart underneath. 

I pray today that you will walk in the blessings of God’s Love, in His Joy and His Peace.  I pray also that God will give you eyes to see the hearts of others rather than their surface manners or appearance.  Moreover, in all that you do on His behalf, I pray that you will look to serve those close around you, especially in your own home, before you look further out in your circle of influence.

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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