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Look on the Inside

by Gabrielle Rich

Sometimes old sayings remind us of important truths—adages like “looks can deceive,” and “be nice to others no matter how they look, sound, or smell.” We all know that in order to be like Jesus, we have to look on the inside and not judge by appearances—and yet many people do just the opposite. When I was about eight years old, something happened that really helped me understand why it’s so important to look past the externals.

A week after Christmas, my mom and I went to the grocery store. For some reason, it seemed that every place we went in the store, I saw an old man with a cane. The man had a big, prominent wart, and I thought he looked very strange. I hoped I wouldn’t have to talk to him! I went through the whole store thinking about the funny man and hiding behind my mom so I wouldn’t have to look at him.

After we went through line, paid for our groceries, and left the store, I climbed into the car at my first chance. I had escaped the old man! Then I heard my mom calling my name—and I looked back to see her talking to the old man. Getting out of the car, I went to my mother. The man said to me, “Santa told me you didn’t get enough for Christmas.” Then he handed me a $5 bill and walked away!

As I got back into the car, I realized I shouldn’t have thought such mean things about the man. Imagine if he had known what I had been thinking about him! I felt so guilty that I wanted to find him and give back the money, but I didn’t want to tell my mother about my unkind thoughts toward the man! Shyness won out, and I kept the money—plus a valuable lesson I’ve never forgotten.

That day, I learned not to look on the outside, but instead to concentrate on what’s inside people. Now, years later, every time I’m tempted to think about how ugly someone may be on the outside, I remember that old man and what he taught me. I’m so thankful he taught me that lesson!

Maybe you’ve never had a funny-looking stranger give you a gift or say or do something kind that touched your heart—but when you’re tempted to think unkind thoughts about others, remember Jesus. Even when He was on the cross, He didn’t say or even think bad things about the men who put Him there. Instead, He yearned after their hearts. Jesus endured pain and mockery from the soldiers, but He still prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Can’t we think and act kindly toward the people He loves?

Gabrielle Rich, age 16, is a member of the Youth Advisory Board. She writes from Maine.

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