See things as they really are

“Once upon a time” a young girl was sitting by herself in a city centre play park. She was wearing a worn pink dress and was barefoot and dirty. All the other children playing in the park ignored her and even the adults passed her by, never pausing to see if she was alright. She looked so sad and dejected and she never spoke a word.

The next day, she was there again, in exactly the same dress just watching the others play. She looked even more forlorn. But today something different was about to happen. One of the dads who had a child playing had noticed her over the past few days and wondered if she was alright. He decided that today he must to go over and speak to her. As he got closer to the girl he suddenly noticed that the back of her dress was grotesquely shaped. There was a massive hump on her back. “Ah” he thought to himself, “How sad, the other children won’t play with her because of her deformity.” The dad smiled and sat down beside her. “Hello” he said cheerfully. The girl looked up at him with beautiful clear blue eyes. “Hello” she replied.

They started to chat and then she added sadly, “You are the only one who has come to talk to me in a whole week”. They continued talking for some time and finally the man said “You remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent, yes you’re like a tiny guardian angel of the park watching over the children.” The girl nodded and smiled “Not quite” she said, “I am not the guardian angel of the park.” She then paused for a moment and opened the back of her pink dress to allow her wings to spread, “No, to be exact, I am your guardian angel, not the parks and now my mission is complete. I was sent by God to remind you that external appearances are not important in His sight. You must look beyond, to a person’s character and heart. It took you a few days but at last you have done that.”

This delightful modern day parable reminds us that we must make sure that we see people as they really are rather than regard outward appearances as being overly important. In 1st Samuel Ch 16v7 it states that “The Lord does not see as a man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” Today’s generation concentrates far too much on the external, the trivial and superficial while forgetting that the “real measure” of a person is their character and personality.

Every day I hear or read of people who are quick to talk about all their various “achievements” in life. Perhaps they have completed this or that academic course or successfully landed this or that business contract. Maybe they have had cosmetic surgery to make them look more physically attractive or just won an award. It’s truly amazing the range of things people will boast about and what they believe to be important.

Scripture teaches however, that in God’s eyes, real beauty and real “achievement” is when an individual strives and labours to develop their character or the “hidden person of their heart” (1st Peter Ch3vs4, 5) according to the example set by Jesus Christ. Romans Ch12vs9-21 provides a summary of the kind of character and personality God expects; it is a sort of template for all those who aspire to be true followers of the Lord. Real achievement is working at trying to develop these personal characteristics and is the Biblical test of being a “real man” or a “real woman”.

While it is vitally important to see people as they really are in character, it is also vitally important to see things or events for what they really are as well. This is especially true when there are spiritual ramifications to an alleged event. It warns in Scripture that because there is a very real danger of people being deceived about spiritual matters we must always check out and “test all things” in the light of God’s Word. (1st Thessalonians Ch5v21). In Hosea Ch4v6  God laments that “People destroy themselves for lack of knowledge.” A great deal of this lack of knowledge and destruction is simply caused by individuals failing to properly check out the truth of an alleged event or piece of information, thereby harming their faith. The hoax of the Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown in 2003 is one such example. Although a work of fiction with numerous subsequent publications and studies showing it was fiction, many people have read it as though it were factual. They failed to do what Scripture warned; test all things!

In 1st Timothy Ch4v1 it predicts “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceiving spirits and the teaching of demons.” And in 2nd Timothy Ch3v13 it further predicts “Evil men will grow worse and worse, deceiving others and deceiving themselves.” Today perhaps more than ever individuals must be careful to see both people and events for what they really are in the light and teaching of God’s Word. “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy Ch3vs 16-17).

The Bible is our ultimate guide and final authority; and we know we can trust it, because God has placed proof that it is from Him by uniquely placing thousands of prophecies and predictions about future events within its pages. Amazingly one third of the Bible is composed of prophecy and hundreds of these predictions have already come to pass. As each prediction gets fulfilled one by one  it is a sign and witness to a new generation that Scripture can be trusted and is exactly what it claims to be; The Word of God to Mankind.

For over three hundred years a tribe in the Philippines called the “Tawbuid” had a special prophecy which was passed down from father to son. The prediction given was that some day, foreigners would come to the tribe with good news about the Owner of Creation and the way back to life. This prophecy further stated that they would be “white teachers” and that the tribe would be able to identify them, because these teachers would know their language and speak to them in their own tongue.

This amazing prediction was fulfilled when two American missionaries by the name of Russell and Barbara Reed went to work among the Tawbuid several years ago and told them of the One True Living God in their own language. To the Tawbuid the existence of this prophecy and its ultimate fulfilment was the vital sign they needed to prove that the teaching given by these Christian missionaries was authentic and true. It helped them discern truth from fiction. They were a particularly timid people and were delighted to learn of the God Who loved them and the way of salvation given to them through the Cross.

In the same way the prophecies of Scripture and their subsequent fulfilment provide us with all the evidence we need to see that the Bible really is the Word of God and can be trusted. Countless books have been written about Bible prophecy showing that their range and subject matter is truly phenomenal and accurate to the smallest detail. Among other things, predictions cover the rise and fall of nations and empires, the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the restoration of the Jewish Nation in 1948, the development of weapons of mass destruction, the state of the world, the decline of true faith in God and of course events yet to be fulfilled such as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the midst of a great world crisis. All these prophecies were written hundreds and sometimes thousands of years before their fulfilment showing that the ultimate Source behind Scripture is Almighty God Himself.

Whether it is in regard to people, events, strange happenings, so called discoveries or whatever, let us make sure that we see things as they really are by testing them in the Light of Scripture. In 2nd Timothy Ch4vs3-4 it foretells “An age will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine but according to their own desires…they will turn their ears away from the truth and believe in fables.”  Fulfilled Bible prophecy provides abundant evidence that the teaching of Scripture is true and accurate. Let us faithfully use it to “test all things” because by so doing we will see things as they really are in the sight of Almighty God.