“And he (Judah) turned unto her (Tamar) by the way, and said, ‘Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee;’ (for he knew not that she was his daughter-in-law.)”
Genesis 38: 16
King James Version
“Looks Can Be Deceiving”
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
Have I ever been “used” by someone to fulfill their desires?
How did it make me feel?
Have I ever “used” someone to fulfill my desires?
How did I feel?
“Most people see what they want to, or at least what they expect to.”
“No man is free who is a slave to the flesh.”
It was sheep shearing time. Like all the other flock owners, Judah headed up to Timnath. He was an unmarried man, longing for female company and attention. According to Biblical historians, having harlots to “service” your needs while you were out of town was not an unusual occurrence. Sad to say, it still isn’t!
Judah was on the lookout for a certain “type” of girl. He wasn’t thinking about who the girl might be or how he could show kindness to her, he was selfishly looking for someone to fulfill his desires.
Unfortunately, in our world today, both men and women can be on the hunt for people to use – whether it’s in business or in bed. With little thought for others, like leeches, we try to bleed the best off of others. We clearly see this behavior present in Judah who only wanted someone to meet his physical needs.
But there’s more to this encounter that we can learn from. Judah was looking for someone whose outside appearance hollered out, “I’m a harlot!” Judah thought he had found what he was looking for by taking all his signals from the externals he saw in Tamar.
How often we do the same. We look at the outside and jump to a conclusion about what’s inside. I hate to admit this, but more than once, I have used the external appearance of another person as my compass, pointing me in a completely erroneous direction as I made a snap judgment about a certain individual.
Many years ago, my husband was told a story by a car salesman he knew well. This gentleman worked in an extremely high-end exotic car dealership in Beverly Hills. One day a scruffy, bum-like young man wandered into the showroom. No one moved a muscle to assist him and after several futile attempts at trying to receive help, he left.
Later that evening, one of the salesmen was watching TV at home and to his surprise, guess whose face showed up on the evening news? I’m sure you guessed – the unkempt young man who several days before had won mega-millions in the lottery. A potential sale was lost because someone could see only the outside.
Often we go through our lives just like Judah. We see what we are looking for. I nearly missed out on one of the best friendships in my life because I was hasty in making a judgment about another person, only to find out later how far off the mark I had been.
In Judah’s encounter with Tamar, we find that first, when we choose to “use” others for our personal desires, their well-being becomes secondary as our self-centered wants become so central to us, we can’t even think of another’s needs. The apostle Paul instructs us in his letter to the Christians living in Philippi, “Don’t be selfish….Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.” (Philippians 2: 3,4, Living Bible).
Not only should we recognize in ourselves our inherent weakness toward putting ourselves first, but we also need to remember that when “me, me, me” is foremost in our minds, this philosophy so clouds our own vision, it is impossible for us to clearly see the beauty and truth in those we meet.
Judah’s physical desires so impacted his life that all he could see was a veiled “harlot” instead of the daughter-in-law he had once chosen to marry his son. He was blinded to another’s true identity because of the thoughts that filled his mind. Author Ruth Benedict wrote: “No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking.” This is why the psalmist David gave us a standard which serves as a barrier to keep our hearts and vision clear, “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19: 8 K.J.V.).
May we have the enlightened vision of our heavenly Father so we will see the beauty He has put into each of His created children, who like Tamar, may, through unkind treatment and disrespect, be hidden behind a “veil” of pain.
“Living in selfishness means stopping at human limits and preventing our transformation into Divine Love.”
“O Lord, give us more charity, more self-denial. more likeness to thee. Teach us to sacrifice our comforts to others, and our likings for the sake of doing good. Make us kindly in thought, gentle in word, generous in deed. Teach us that it is better to give than to receive; better to forget ourselves than to put ourselves forward; better to minister than to be ministered unto. And unto thee, the God of love, be glory and praise for ever.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus