Jesus said, “And why do you become anxious about clothing? Learn from the lilies in the paddocks as to how they grow: they don’t engage in hard labour or spinning, yet I am telling you that not even Solomon at his most magnificent was dressed like one of these.”
— Matthew 6:28-29 (USC)
Appearance is a god of our own making; a symbol of our predilection for approval.
We wish to create an impression, and we are not happiest unless we can warp that impression to the best of our favour. We do so in the most unconscious seconds of our lives. And we do so because we are so callously unaware of our lack of completeness. Genuinely, it is only Christ — in the fullness of his perfect glory — who can make us complete, by the grace of the Father who gave him, and by the Presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Yes, God in us!
God in us is the power to take as the lilies do, the gracious gift of perfect appearance — as we are!
If we are to covet nothing of this world — certainly no creation of our own as to manage our appearance — we are to enjoy the monasticism of God.
But I’m the least qualified to write this, or even to ‘believe’, for I’m an ex-bodybuilder; now, the most important part of that sentence is ‘ex’. I know what it’s like to need to manage one’s appearance — to make the very most of what you have and to pray every prayer for the ‘blessings of God’ to the extension of better looks.
But, of course, God makes us all beautiful in our time.
We may think a lot about prettiness and handsomeness, but God made us all beautiful — as we are — for our time. We come perfectly adorned, as the lilies do.
God has invested in each of us; in our initial creation (our births) and ongoing creation (our growth). Even as we refuse to take up the cudgels of the world — to deplore the fashion assault — to denounce the pride of the eye — we are blessed, ever more, with growth; the only kind that counts.
Contentment will come when we stop fussing about our appearances.
Anxiety will be vanquished when we stop looking vainly in the mirror.
Covetousness is challenged at its heart when we accept what we look like.
Our sense of self is a source of peace when we glory in God alone, and not looks.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. In what ways, exactly, do you find yourself preening your appearance? List them. What can you do to overcome the need to pretty yourself?
2. There is a difference between looking respectable and being vain regarding looks. How can you know the difference and achieve the balance in your life?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.