Luke 16:14-15 “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.’”
Have you ever made a judgment call only to realize after the fact that you got it all wrong? I have and it was a costly mistake.
Two Paintings and a Big Mistake
Many years ago I acquired at an auction two paintings of great interest to me. I have always loved horses so these pictures of “The Hunt” were right up my alley. The pawing horses, baying hounds, and genteel riders dressed in red suits and black helmets continually captured my attention. They drew me into the excitement of the chase every time I saw them.
Despite my great love of these pieces of art I realized I really had no place for both paintings, so I decided to sell one of them at a garage sale. After debating for quite some time I chose the one I thought the best and tagged the other one to be taken to the sale with all my other unneeded items.
At the last minute I decided I had priced the painting too high and lowered it from five dollars to three. Satisfied that I had made a good bargain I dropped everything off and waited to hear how well I had done with all my merchandise.
Later that evening my friend shared that everything had sold, but the painting, especially, had been snapped up in a moment. The ecstatic buyer happily declared upon checking out that she was thrilled to find such a fine piece of artwork for a mere pittance. Later when Dad looked at the artwork I had kept he gave me devastating news. This painting was not worth anything at all. In fact, it was simply a paint-by-number probably purchased at a local convenience store! I had sold the real work of art for just a few measly dollars and kept the imitation for my own pleasure.
Only God Can Judge the Heart
Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. People looked at them with their fine clothes, superior knowledge of the Scriptures, and important status and esteemed them greatly. But Jesus saw into their hearts. These men loved their high position and used it to their advantage to control people and gain wealth. They didn’t care about serving God, but only themselves. God knew the evil ulterior motives that lurked underneath the spotless robes and pious looks and He was disgusted.
Often we judge people by the things we consider important. Financial success, while not a sin in itself, can become the template we use to assess someone’s personal worth. But God is not looking for those dressed in high dollar clothes and driving expensive cars. He is looking for anyone who is willing to serve Him wholeheartedly wherever He places them, no matter the cost. This is played out by how well we love others.
When it comes to art, I learned my lesson many years ago. Don’t make a judgment call on a painting’s worth with only a quick outward look. But we must learn an even more crucial lesson: do not esteem people based on the world’s standards of success. Instead look to the Lord for wisdom. Only He can see deep into a person’s heart. Without His guidance we won’t be able to differentiate between a fine painting of great worth and an everyday paint-by-number.