Keeping Up Appearances
- Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Secondly, your value as a person, your innate worth, is not determined by your physical appearance. True, lasting attractiveness is that which flows from a heart filled with God. Many of us think that wearing the right clothes, being the right weight, having a certain haircut or body type makes us valuable. But this is false. Why? Because our outward appearance doesn't reveal what we are truly like inside, or what our true value is. Have you ever met someone whose outward appearance is not very attractive initially, but the more time you spend with them, the more you get to know them, the more beautiful or handsome they become?
The true us, the lasting part, is inside. The outer shell, the temporary part, is fading away. How backwards it is that we, as a culture, should become so fixated on what is so fragile and often bears so little resemblance to the "real" us! Our true selves, rather than deteriorating with time, grow richer, deeper, and more beautiful as we walk with the Lord and let Him form us.
Paul wrote, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). He called our earthly bodies a "tent," that would one day be torn down. One day, through disease or mishap or malfunction, our tents will fold. But our true selves, which dwell for about seventy or eighty years within this tent, will continue to live for eternity, if indeed we belong to Christ.
Until that day comes, this is the tent we have. It may look different than other people's tents, but we need to take care of it and allow God to use it, regardless of its shape or form. After all, it no longer belongs to us alone. When God Himself purchased you with the death of His Son, he moved in with you, and turned your tent into His temple. It is important that we cherish and care for our physical bodies because He has chosen us, and wants us to communicate His character through the way we live.
Finally, we can do all we want to to improve our appearance. But what is most important to God and for eternity, is hidden within our hearts. Peter wrote "And let not your adornment be merely external, braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry [and sculpting your body with a 24-hour fitness pass and dressing like Ralph Lauren?]; but let it be the hidden person of the heart" (1 Peter 3:3-4, paraphrase in brackets mine). Our directive is not that we should avoid looking good. We need to dress and look appropriate to the culture within which God has placed us. But we must not be deceived into thinking that our outward appearance is a source of genuine attractiveness. Our value has already been determined because of our relationship with Christ; no one, nothing, can ever add to or take away from that value.
We have a choice to make. We can either look at the reflection of ourselves in the "distorted mirrors" the world provides, or we can choose to look at ourselves through the lens of God's Word.
How about it? Tomorrow morning, will you see yourself there in the mirror, or stand there on the bathroom scale, and thank God for the way He has made you? That means all of you, the things you like, and the things you don't. Then ask Him to grow you, the real you, into the kind of person that reflects His magnificence to the world around you.
Here to access Chip Ingram's devotional on Crosswalk.com, Quiet Walk.
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