Archive for January 9th, 2008

Under the Surface

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Today’s scripture: Acts 28:1-10 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Melody Merida):

When I first went to Liberty University many years ago, one of the first people that I met was a freshman girl named Sandy, who was from High Point, North Carolina. Sandy was very friendly and spoke with a really thick southern twang.

I confess that when I first met Sandy, I thought that she probably wasn’t very bright because of that accent. I had brought all of my “northern” prejudices to Virginia with me, thinking that all those who spoke like a southerner must surely be lacking in the intelligence department.

Needless to say, I was surprised when Sandy informed me a few weeks later that she had a full scholarship at Liberty to be on the debate team and that she had chosen Liberty over Harvard. Yes, that Harvard. Unbeknownst to me, Liberty University’s debate team was rated #1 in the country for most of the 90’s. Sandy was heavily recruited as she was considered by many to be the best high school debater in the country; she had chosen Liberty University because of the debate reputation. She went on to become the top debater at Liberty, winning national honors. In the process she proved me wrong. She could outsmart me, and most others, any day of the week.

I thought of Sandy when I read today’s scripture. The people of Malta reminded me of myself. When the snake bit Paul, the people thought surely Paul must be a murderer because he did not escape justice. It is only a few sentences later that we read that the people changed their minds and thought Paul must be a god because the snake didn’t harm him.

The people of Malta were just like me, making judgments on others based upon appearances and circumstances. None of us have the right to try to assume that we know who someone is based on their exterior. Just like the people of Malta didn’t know much about Paul, we don’t usually know what is happening under the surface. It is so easy to try to assess the character of someone from their circumstances, but it’s really not fair. What if God were to do the same with us? How many of us would be able to pass that test?

Thought for the day: How many “Sandys” or “Pauls” have we dismissed because of our own prejudiced ideas about who we think they are? Let’s remember that God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance. As followers of God, we should do the same.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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