My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. [James 2:1 (NIV)]
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7 b (NIV)]
Unless a bird is impressive and memorable, I give it little notice and classify it broadly by size and color. Yesterday’s devotion reminded us that people aren’t nameless/faceless little brown birds to God. I then asked myself if they are to me. Do I truly see the people around me for the unique and beautiful individuals they are or are some just little brown birds? Think of the quiet unobtrusive people we see every day but barely notice: the bagger at the grocery, the busser at the restaurant, the lady with the schnauzer, the fast food cashier, the fellow stocking shelves, the landscaper, the old man at the coffee shop, or the parking lot attendant. Do we simply look past or even through them without a second glance? I hate to admit how many times wait staff and sales clerks have introduced themselves only to have me immediately forget both their names and faces.
Do we only take notice of the eagles, cardinals, and great blue herons of life? When Samuel anointed Israel’s first king, it was Saul. Described as the most handsome man in Israel and taller than anyone else in the land, he may have been as impressive as an eagle but he was a weak leader and a cowardly king. In contrast, Israel’s next king, David, was more like a little brown bird. He may have been handpicked by God but he was overlooked and ignored by everyone else. When Samuel came to Jesse in search of a new king, he invited Jesse and all of his boys to a sacrifice. It was only after every one of Jesse’s sons was rejected by the Lord that Samuel learned the youngest boy, David, hadn’t even been invited to the feast. In spite of being anointed by Samuel, David continued to be insignificant to his father and brothers until he defeated Goliath. It was the little brown bird rather than the showy eagle who saved the Israelites with a slingshot and a few well-placed stones.
A pharmaceutical ad begins with psoriasis patients saying the words, “See me.” It’s not just people with skin conditions who want to be seen as individuals; we all want to be seen as the unique people we are. Consider Jesus; there were many who met a poor itinerant rabbi, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth, and never really looked at Him or listened to His words. That unimpressive little brown bird they so easily dismissed was God!
We don’t need a scope or telephoto lens to help us see the little brown birds of daily life and we certainly don’t need an Audubon book to learn their identities. We just have to open our eyes to the people around us, really look at them, acknowledge their presence, and listen to their words. In actuality, rather than elegant egrets or gaudy peacocks, most of us are more like little brown birds—ordinary, inconspicuous, and easy to overlook. Nevertheless, we are extraordinary in our own ways and we all want to be seen for who we are. God doesn’t judge by outward appearance and neither should we. After all, it’s the little brown birds that sing the sweetest songs in the forest.