From the time humanity was created, it was perfect (Gen 1:31). Since the fall, humanity knows how to differentiate between good and evil, even though it does wrong (Gen 3:22). Human beings still do wrong things because they easily succumb to the flesh which wars against the spirit (Rom 7:23; Gal 5: 17). It was not surprising that humanity will fall but just surprising that man had a high penchant for evil. Humanity’s propensity for perpetually committing evil was so strong that God was and still is amazed (Gen 6:5). Though man was created perfect, he has sought his own inventions. (Eccl7:29). Hitherto, truth is now more absurd than fiction, and a clean and clear conscience has become a scarce and seared commodity. Inside the heart of the human being lays wickedness that no one can know it (Ps. 14:2-3; Jer 17:9-10).
Before Saul was made king, he was goodlier than any young man in Israel (I Sam 9:2). Time alone is needed and with time Saul changed from a goodlier person to a murderer and to a pariah. When we say that we know an individual, we assume the position of God who can read from both inside and outside of the human being (I Sam 16:7; 1 Pet 3:3-4). It is only God who knows the heart of an individual (I king 8:39). Him alone knows our next move (I Chr 28:9). Though God created man, his actions still surprise Him (Eccl 7:29).
One example is that of Achan (Joshua 7:1-26). It proves just how much the human being is unpredictable. When Israel was to fight Ai; Joshua selected only men he had confidence and trusted. He thought he knew them well. He knew if there was any to follow instructions to the letter it would be these ones. Since we cannot know the heart of a human being, Achan commits the accursed thing. It is a shock to Joshua who instead accuses God for abandonment because it did not crisscross his mind that the fault was theirs, but after Achan’s confession, the dramatic irony reveals that the sanctimony we see in human beings as righteousness is just phony. You know their worth only during trials and temptations.
Another example is Gen 38:6-24. Judah who had lost his two sons and intended to share their property decided to visit his sheepshearer and friend in Timnath. On his way, he used a supposed prostitute whom he got pregnant. Unfortunately, the girl was the daughter in-law. When they told him that Tamar was now pregnant, he requested the people to lapidate her. Shockingly, the girl revealed that Judah was the baby’s daddy. This is the occasion that reveals the true person of Judah and Tamar. Do you think the people knew Judah well?
A third example is Amnon who rapes his stepsister: Tamar (2 Sam 1-22). No one imagined that if Tamar was to be raped, it would be Amnon. When someone says they have repented, John the Baptist requested he or she brings forth fruits that meet the quality of repentance (Mat 3:8). That is because though we cannot know his or her heart to tell if he or she has repented, at least from the fruits he or she produces, we can know part of them (Mt 7:16). In words, some people are in heaven, but in actions, they sit with the devil in hell (Jer 29:13). If you say you love God and do not love man that you see, then you are mere tintinnabulations (Jas 2:14-16). That is because love is not only in word and thought, but it is also in action (Jn 3:18).
We cannot also know people from what they say because a man’s words may show love while his heart bears covetousness (Ezk 33:31; Mt 15:8). Some will flatter you with their mouths and lie to you with their tongues (Ps 78:36). Second line of stanza three Norman Mcleod, in his poem “Courage Brother Do Not Stumble” says that: “some will flatter; some will slight; cease from man, and look above thee: trust in God and do the right”.
The human being must count on God to have faithful and trustworthy people on their path. By trusting in God, we acknowledge that what we sow is what we shall reap (Gal 6:7). If we betray people and play others; if we lie and deceive others, so shall we also be deceived. Trust begets trust because iron sharpens iron, and like-mindedness attracts like-mindedness (Prov 27:17). Though we may not know every action of our cronies, but what they produce will not be strange because that is what we attract.
Therefore, while we cannot know people fully by their physical appearance, at least their character traits are good enough to predict a couple of their actions. For humanity to acquire the good seed, it must repent and be born again so that an inward transformation may take place to transform the outward person and actions. If we trust God, we should not worry about knowing people. Those that He will bring to us will be ones we don’t need to worry what they will do to us because they will be good people.
Until then, keep good relationship with God and He will bring good people by your path.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.