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Can You Look Beyond Outward Appearances?

Can You Look Beyond Outward Appearances?

DON, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada, makes a special effort to talk to people living on the street. Regarding one of these individuals, Don relates: “A homeless man named Peter was one of the dirtiest men I had ever seen in the back alleys. He was obnoxious and had a knack for keeping people away from him. He repeatedly rejected many acts of human kindness.” Still, off and on for more than 14 years, Don patiently worked to be kind to this homeless man.

One day, Peter asked Don: “Why do you bother with me? Everyone else just leaves me alone. Why do you care?” Don tactfully used three scriptures in an effort to reach Peter’s heart. First, he asked Peter if he knew that God has a personal name and asked him to read it directly from the Bible at Psalm 83:18. Next, to show why he cared, Don had Peter read Romans 10:13, 14, which explains that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Finally, Don read Matthew 9:36 and then asked Peter to read it for himself. That verse says: “On seeing the crowds, [Jesus] felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” At that, with tears in his eyes, Peter asked: “Am I one of these sheep?”

Peter began to change. He bathed, neatly trimmed his beard, and put on the better clothes that Don offered him. Peter continued to maintain a clean appearance.

Peter kept a diary. The early sections of his journal were dark and gloomy, but his more recent entries were different. One entry read: “I learned God’s name today. Now when I pray, I can pray to Jehovah. It’s wonderful to know his name. Don says that Jehovah can be my personal Friend, someone who always has time to listen to me, no matter when or what.”

Peter’s last comments were addressed to his siblings. He wrote:

“I’m not feeling well today. I think that age has caught up with me. But even if this is my last day, I know that I will see my friend [Don] again in Paradise. If you are reading this, I am no longer around. But if you see a man at my funeral who does not seem to belong there, talk to him, and please read this little blue book [referring to the Bible study aid “The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life” that he had received years before]. * It says that I will once again see my friend in Paradise. I believe this with all my heart. Your loving brother, Peter.”

After the funeral, Peter’s sister Ummi explained: “About two years ago, Peter contacted me. For the first time in years, he seemed happy. He even smiled.” She told Don: “I will read the book because anything that could reach my brother must be something special.” Ummi also agreed to discuss the more recent book What Does the Bible Really Teach? with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

We too can look beyond outward appearances, express genuine love, and be patient with people of all sorts. (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) As we do so, we may be able to move people who, like Peter, may not be attractive to human eyes but who have a good heart. We can be sure that God, who “sees into the heart,” will make the truth grow in the hearts of rightly disposed ones.1 Sam. 16:7; John 6:44.

^ par. 7 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses but now out of print.