Don’t judge a book by its cover – 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

There is an old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Its meaning is simple. A person’s appearance, either their physical attributes or dress, are no indication of their inner being. Humans are incredibly complex. Whilst their physical appearance may well be apparent, their spiritual (inner) dimension is not. As the Lord Jesus Christ states, the outside of the cup may appear clean and whitewashed, however, inside reveals a completely different story.

“Beauty is only skin deep’, often the vain and arrogant seem to be the most beautiful. A love of self incubates selfishness. The idol has become very close indeed.

Not so super

In an egocentric society, hero worship uplifts the bold and beautiful. The Supermanof Capitalism proudly supports a muscular chest, bulging biceps and gleaming white teeth. Self image is everything (so we are told). Woman are no better. Parading their plastic surgery, bot-ox injections and breast augmentation. Their gym membership fees could solve world poverty. One can only wonder what God views of his creation when it is mixed with plastic, silicon and painted with copious amounts of makeup.

Ironically it all points to the deepest forms of insecurity. Feelings of being unloved, and thus craving attention. God’s word clearly states how women should adorn themselves (without adornment – such as braided hair or golden jewellery – 1 Peter 3:3). Seemingly this scripture is ignored. Self image has become all important. A far cry from the hard working missionary women of years gone by (see Florence Nightingale as an example).

God makes it clear what actually matters to Him. Inner beauty. What is on the inside is what counts. It is here inside the heart (the core of a human’s moral, ethical and spiritual being) where God looks.

King Saul was head and shoulders above everyone. No doubt a strapping figure of a man. Perfect as a Warrior King. So it would seem. Yet God seemingly used Saul as an example of what not to pick. When the Israelites screamed for a King, it was God who told Samuel what ‘kings’ would do to the people. Oppression and subjugation rated high. Again God taught the Israelites hard lessons.  By the end of the book of Kings the Israelite landscape is smeared with blood. Their own – and often it was at the hand’s of their ‘kings’.

Even Samuel was swayed by physical prowess. When meeting Jesse’s first son, Eliab, he immediately assumes this, the oldest and strongest of his sons, must be God’s anointed (1 Sam 16:6). God makes it clear – DO not consider his appearance or height – I have rejected him.

Christ explained it perfectly. Why worry about the external? Look at something as simple as a flower. Its physical body is already beautiful. So to are you to God. Looking after your body is not wrong. However, not even King Solomon could compare to the simplistic beauty of a flower. To God this tiny part of creation was perfect. Especially as it is not self aware.

Clean the inside of your cup. Seek what matters most – Love (of other), Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, faithfulness and self control (Gal 5:22). Wrap them all in a spirit of humility and truly you will appear beautiful to all. No matter how you look on the outside.