Appearance and Eternal Values
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We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.—2 Corinthians 4:181
Physical appearance is important to God in that it reveals the glory of His creative abilities. So we should appreciate the beauty God has given us as His most complex and amazing creation. God crafted each of us2 to look as we do, for His own perfect reasons. Despite our best efforts, man will never be able to come close to the beauty and majesty of God. Our bodies were formed in His image. In ways we cannot understand, we reflect His own beauty. No human painting, sculpture, photograph, or sketch can approach the beauty of God. God places some value on appearances; if He did not, we would all look the same.
It is not wrong for us to notice and appreciate physical appearance. But it should be remembered that God judges our hearts, not our physical appearance. It is the inner man that is an even greater creation. We have souls that will never be destroyed, that live on forever. Our hearts, too, are capable of so many thoughts and feelings, reflections of the complexities of God.
We should not fall into the trap of believing that our looks are to be a source of pride or envy. Our true beauty should come from inside, not from the fleshly beauty that the world judges us on. In 1 Peter 3:4–5, Peter tells wives that their “beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” ...
We should be humbly aware of our appearance rather than acting to conform to the world’s standards. Matthew 23:12 says, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” And James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
We must watch out for anything that draws us away from God, including the too-often extreme emphasis the world places on appearances. God does not want us to love the world or anything in it,3 and we are not to think as the world does.4 God has shown us His own amazing power and beauty and love in an incredibly diverse creation. We should be humble, and not … [worship] the creation rather than the Creator.5—From gotquestions.org6
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.—Psalm 139:147
Judy Garland, an American actress, once said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” I went to a party with some friends, and it struck me that so many of us obsess about our appearance. We wear the right clothes, we say the right words, we put on the right smile, yet all the while we might be neglecting who we really are inside—our values, our character, our spirit. Fronts and appearances so often take precedence rather than what is more important: having a sound, solid inner life that won’t crumble with the first heavy storm.
Maybe the reason some of us put up fronts is that we feel that we’re not good enough the way we are. We fear that we won’t be accepted just the way we are, so we try to make ourselves look better to others. We change things about ourselves—the way we walk, talk, act, or dress—in an effort to get people to like us.
Sometimes we see others who seem to be popular, and figure that if we could be more like them, people would like us more and things would be better in our life. So, we start copying stuff about them—his walk, her attitude, his style—until we become a replica of someone else rather than the unique version of ourselves.
Our fake fronts put a pretty face on a life that might be hollow and empty—empty because we’ve put value on appearances rather than on something solid and lasting and of real value. Wouldn’t it be better if we spent that energy investing in who we really are and were meant to be?
Life isn’t about building a picture-perfect image to impress others. It’s about finding God’s purpose for you and living that to the max. It’s about discovering the amazing gifts God’s given you and developing them to their full potential so that you can become all that God created you to be.
God made each of us just the way He wanted us, and He has given each of us a particular set of skills and gifts that He wants us to build on. In Psalm 139:14 King David praises God that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”8 The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous!” That means that we were made to be awesome. It means that God did a great job the first time around.
Sure, it’s important to take care of ourselves and our appearance. It’s important to be well groomed and well dressed. And often people will judge others based on their appearance, so we can’t neglect it. But there’s more to life than appearance. While we need to groom our outer person, our first priority should be grooming our inner person. Jesus once told the Pharisees, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”9 That’s quite a gruesome picture. But the point He was making was that it wasn’t enough to look good on the outside, whether in appearance or in actions. The inside man had to be clean and beautiful as well.
Some questions we probably could all ask ourselves are: How do I look on the inside? What are my values; what are those things that are important to me, and do I uphold them and try to live by them? (Things like standing up for the underdog, not gossiping about others or ridiculing them, going out of your way to be kind and encouraging of others, taking time to pray for yourself and others, etc.) What are my main topics of conversation? (Because what is in your heart is what you’re apt to talk about.) When was the last time I invested time in someone else? When was the last time I spent time with Jesus and asked Him to change an aspect of my nature to make it more like His?
What do you think would happen if we quit worrying so much about looking good and instead focused on doing good? What would happen if each one of us decided to be just the person God created us to be? What if we stood up and decided to be an absolutely first-rate version of ourselves and quit worrying about trying to be like anyone else?
I challenge you to put the gifts God’s given you to use to become someone who is not only attractive on the outside, but the person He wants you to be on the inside as well.—Marie Story
What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.—2 Corinthians 4:1810
Fix your eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. You spend too much time and mental energy thinking about trivial things—surface matters that have no value in My kingdom. The sense of sight is a wondrous gift from Me, but it can become a source of bondage if misused. You have such easy access to mirrors shining your reflection back to you in glaring accuracy. This, in conjunction with media images of people who look perfect, makes it tempting to be overly focused on your appearance. The same can be true of your home or family. This focus on appearances distracts you from the soul-satisfying pleasures of knowing Me.
When you seek Me, you enjoy the company of the only perfect Person who ever existed. However, My perfection was not in My appearance but in My divine, sinless character. I am the One who can love you with unfailing Love and give you perfect Peace. Don’t waste time thinking about trivialities. Instead, fix your thoughts on Me and receive My Peace.—Jesus11
Published on Anchor May 2021. Read by Jerry Paladino.
Music by John Listen.
2 Jeremiah 1:5.
3 1 John 2:15.
4 Romans 12:2.
5 Colossians 3:5.
9 Matthew 23:27 NIV.
11 Sarah Young, Jesus Always (Thomas Nelson, 2017).
- Living in God’s Word
- God’s Healing Balm in Times of Grief
- Hurry and Worry
- One Thing Before All Things
- Faith Like Gold
- Learning About God’s Mercy
- Trusting Through the Silence
- A Life Well Lived, Today and for the Future
- How God Gave Me a Home
- Setting Our Affections on Things Above