1 Samuel 16:7b – The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (NIV)
1 Peter 3:3-4 – Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it 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. (NIV)
When I was a young girl and fussing as to how I looked before I would go out, my mother always reminded me that it was what was on the inside that counted. She would say to me, "The world is charmed by our outward appearance; however your Lord is much more concerned that you present yourself to others in a loving, gentle, and kind way."
She would once more go on to tell me — and often my friends who were with me, also fussing about their outward appearance — a story, which she assured us was true, and for some reason I truly believed her.
Years and years ago, there was a family who had one son, she would begin. Sadly, both parents were killed in a car accident, and the little boy was left homeless and parentless. Down the street lived an ugly old gentleman who had lived through a devastating fire and whose face was badly scarred. The children in the neighbourhood were afraid of this man. They would call him nasty names and throw stones at him while he walked to the store to buy his groceries.
The old man was saddened when he heard of the plight of the little boy, and he offered to take him in. As time went by, it was evident that the boy received not only a warm home and plenty to eat, but lots of love and understanding. Never once in his life, even though he lived in the same home, did the boy notice or realize how ugly the man was. The boy grew to be a very intelligent and studious young man, and he went to Edinburgh to study law, with his father's blessing.
His first Christmas away from home was approaching, and the young student made plans to be with his dad for the holiday. The train from Edinburgh pulled into the London station, and the young man began looking for his father and his ride home. Out of the crowd appeared his wonderful friend and supporter. The young man was amazed and surprised at just how disfigured his dad's face was, and he realized how much hurt he must have endured over the years as he weathered the trials of rejection from those who did not realize the beauty below the scars. The son ran to his dad, wrapped his arms around him, and told him how much he loved him. Through all the years that the old man had cared for the young boy, mamma would tell us, only the beauty and love he held in his heart for his new-found son was displayed to the boy; thus his outward appearance was in no way visible or noticed by the boy, who was now a young man.
I loved that story and would ask to have it told to us over and over. Sometimes I would cry, and mamma would say, "No crying! Just be kind to others."
Even though we Christians are not perfect on the outside, we can display God's love and grace so that we, too, can be remembered for our inward beauty. When faced with difficulties or with ugliness in others, in every situation, we must first keep our composure and say to ourselves, "What would Christ do if he found Himself in this dilemma?" It truly is what is on the inside that counts, and knowing Him personally makes all the difference.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You who are able to make the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear, we ask that You would seek deep within our hearts and lives and make us mindful that it is what is on the inside that really counts. May we not be deceitful, uncaring, or ungrateful, but rather may we ask You to cleanse us and teach us to be patient, kind, and thankful for the many blessings we have. Bless us, Lord, and may we always remember that although man looks on the outside, You truly look deep within the heart. Thank You, Father, for loving us and for sending Your Son, the perfect One, to die for us. Amen.