I can’t keep up with the beauty business. New innovations for self-grooming come out faster than the latest iPhone. I would have to quit my job and neglect my family if I were to have any chance of staying on top of the trends. (Microblading anyone?)
Don’t get me wrong – it is important for us to take care of ourselves and feel good about ourselves. I think most of us want to be considered attractive and desirable, no matter how many times we are told “it’s what is on the inside that counts.” We have been so engrained with that platitude, yet people keep spending more and more time and money on their appearance than ever before.
I know that partly has to do with the fact that we live in a wealthy time and place in history. We have the luxury of not using all our time and energy just to stay fed. But part of me wonders if there is more to it than that. Part of me wonders if we know the platitudes about inner beauty are actually not true. Because when I take the time to honestly examine what is going on in me, I conclude that I would rather people see my appearance. I would rather people judge this book by it’s cover. Because the inside is ugly.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT
My tongue can be a weapon of mass destruction and probably does more damage than the real thing. I have often made my opinion more important than people's feelings. I have said careless things to be funny. I have lashed out at my kids for…being kids. I have hurt my husband for mistakes he would never intentionally make. I have slandered the very people I share a pew with each week.
It can take me years to get over a wrong done to me, particularly if it is by someone who professes to be a Christian. What a hypocrite! What a stain on the church! But I am talking about myself, because the wrong that has been done to me is small in comparison to the wrong I am capable of.
I judge people on how they spend their money, their time, their clothes, and who their friends are. As if I am the standard by which people should be measured.
I have ruled people as hopeless, a lost cause, and too hard to love. But the truth is, I have been all those things.
I know that His mercies are new every morning – thank God - but God’s forgiveness of my sin still does not take back the damage I have done to others. To think that my words or actions have planted a stronghold or stumbling block to someone is devastating.
So please – judge me by my appearance. It is infinitely better than what you will find inside.
But I have come to realize there are benefits to recognizing how ugly I am.
It makes me realize I am in desperate need of saving. I can identify with Romans 7:24 when Paul says, “Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” When I come face-to-face with the sinfulness inside me, I am so grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He saved me! Why would he do that?! I don’t deserve it! But He did it anyway and I will eagerly and desperately take that gift.
It makes me more forgiving of others because I know what I have been forgiven of. It makes me free to love people and to bless my enemies, because my expectations of them are realistic. I know that I am not perfect, so I don’t expect perfection from others. Matthew 6:15 says that “if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Those are sobering words indeed. That I would not forgive someone when the ultimate price was paid to forgive me is hard to comprehend, and yet I so often don’t forgive as quickly as I should. I kick and scream and try and convince God why the offence done to me is unforgiveable, instead of just saying “God, it is so brutally hard to forgive this person. I’m really struggling. But you call me to forgive so I will forgive because I want to obey you and I will confess it everyday if I need to.”
It humbles me enough to receive godly discipline and correction. Proverbs 12:1 says, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” If I think I am inherently “good,” it is difficult to receive discipline and correction. I am too proud. I get defensive. But when I recognize the source of all the good in me comes from Jesus, it makes me humble and open to correction because I know I am capable of untold things without that correction.
The paradox in all of this is that when I realize how ugly I am, I experience the beauty of the cross, the beauty of forgiveness, the beauty of Jesus, the beauty of a new life in Him. And that alone makes me more beautiful than any beauty trend could make me, inside or out.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is by his great mercy that we have been born again,
because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
Peter 1:3 NLT