As we start the new year, many of us seek a new beginning, a fresh start to our lives. Often this comes in the form of a resolution to change our physical appearance in some way. The Bible is clear in its identification of what matters most with regard to our appearance.

Perhaps the most vivid example is found in the Book of James. The author writes, "For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. (1:11)
The use of the word "beauty," which is translated as "fashion" in the King James version, is the key to our understanding this passage. James uses the word to mean "the face" - literally the part of a person’s face that we can see. His point is that the outside veneer of our lives, whatever it may be (wealth, fame, image, etc), will always wither away like the "grass of the field." What people see as the exterior reality of our lives is temporary. His point is to help us more clearly understand that what we "fashion" to the world is not what will remain forever. Who we are, James wants us each to recognize, has nothing to do with our "fashion" ...our exterior image. That image will disappear with time. Who we are is God’s own people who have been invited to join the eternal and redemptive reality of God’s love by focusing on our inner "fashion" ...our inner image. This is the face that God sees, and is the only face that truly matters.

Indeed, when we develop our inner face--our inner beauty--the wisdom we gain becomes visible to all. Jesus Christ lived in a world that was consumed by the importance of the "fashion" ...of the visible face. Many rejected him as Lord because, in their opinion, a true lord could not be so lowly, so un-majestic. But Christ focused on the "inner fashion" and taught all of us how to do the same. May it be so, this new year.