Aside

God Looks on the Heart

Analects 11.1:

子曰:「先進於禮樂,野人也;後進於禮樂,君子也。如用之,則吾從先進。」
‘The Master said, “Those of my disciples who were first to enter into study of ritual and music with me were simple rustics, whereas those who entered later were aristocrats (junzi 君子). If I had to employ them [in public office], I would prefer the first.” ’

Sometimes, the appearance of cultural accomplishment, and even some technical advancement, does not mean superiority. Much greatness can be achieved on borrowed time, even on principles less sound than those which animate cultural expressions that are much less refined. Every society is at least somewhat degenerate, yet history is full of greatness, because God will be glorified no matter what. A high pitch of fervour or even of legal achievement does not always indicate a higher moral tone overall; sometimes a good tree, even if slowly dying, continues to bear good fruit until the bitter end. So we should not despise the simple. God knows the secrets of the heart, and he does not judge by appearances; but he does as he pleases.

Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

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