Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 15, 2011

Look Beyond Actualities

Last month I posted a blog entitled Dichos Sabios (translated Wise Sayings) in which I listed some of my favorite Spanish sayings, proverbs, and nuggets of practical wisdom passed down from generation to generation. This morning I was reminded of another dicho that is common to every culture: Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos. A dynamic translation of this dicho is: “We can see faces but we cannot know what is in the heart.” This dicho is also akin to “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Judging a book by its cover is generally the default setting for how most of us look at others. We can spot an ounce of dirt in someone else’s life while overlooking a ton of filth in our own (see Matt. 7:3-5). That’s human nature. While looking for a king to replace Saul, Samuel was reminded that the Lord “sees not as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Jesus set the best example of what it means to look beyond outward appearance. When Andrew first brought his brother Simon to Jesus, the Bible tells us that “Jesus looked at him” (John 1:42). The particular Greek word for “looked” is one that speaks of an intense and concentrated gaze — the kind of look that is able to see beyond the actualities of a person’s life. When Jesus looked at Simon, He saw beyond the actualities of his life to behold the possibilities. That’s why Jesus said, “So you are Simon son of John?” — in other words, “I can see who and what you are. I can see the same thing that everybody else sees and knows about you at face value.” But, Jesus looked beyond those actualities to behold what others did not see in Simon. Jesus said to him, “You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter).” Peter is the Aramaic word for “stone” or “rock.” Jesus saw what no one else could see in Simon: the capacity to become a solid and rock-like man. So, Jesus gave Simon a new name, one that would remind him of the possibilities that Jesus had seen in his heart. Jesus did not give Simon the new name Peter because he already was a rock-like man, but rather because he had the potential to become one. This new name was a prophetic statement of what Jesus was going to make out of Simon — it foretold his new character.

When I consider how Jesus looked at others I am convicted about how often I judge a book by its cover. It’s far too easy for me to look at the actualities in the lives of others and make hasty judgments about them. However, it is much harder to look past those actualities to try to behold the possibilities — the things that nobody else can see. I am determined to become more like Jesus and to ask Him to help me see others with His perceptive and discerning eyes. I am thankful for those individuals in my past who looked at me through the eyes of Jesus and saw potential in my life that nobody else saw. Over the years I have learned that we are the most cruel, unkind, and unfair to others when all we can see are the actualities in their lives. But, when we begin to see the possibilities in others and how God can use us to help them realize their highest potential in Christ, then we become better people as we help others to become better people. The old Spanish dicho is right on target: Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos. May we allow God to help us look beyond actualities to behold the possibilities.


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