When it comes to caring about outward appearances, it seems like there are two main camps. 1. I care way too much about what everyone else thinks of me. 2. I don’t care at all about what others think of me. This causes some interesting conflicts in homes, such as “you can’t seriously be planning on leaving the house wearing THAT,” and “for the hundredth time – you look great! Let’s go.”
Now I get that some people overthink it in the looks department, but what about when it comes to actions? Do we put any thought into how our actions might be perceived by others? Nehemiah thought we should.
Nehemiah 5:9 So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
Here’s what was going on in this situation: The Jewish people were treating each other poorly. They were enslaving each other both physically and financially. Their actions toward one another did not reflect the heart of God. So Nehemiah stepped in and brought correction. And to drive his point home, he said this: “This isn’t right! My goodness, people who don’t believe in God are watching. Let’s have some respect for God and get this right.”
As Christians we do the same thing that the Jews in the book of Nehemiah were doing. We act in a way that isn’t a very good representation of the heart of God. Oh, but we excuse our very ungodly actions by quoting scriptures like “but the Lord looks at the heart!” Okay, I can agree that the Lord looks at the heart. But your coworker can’t see your heart; he can only see your actions.
So shape up Christians. Ask the Lord who sees your heart to change it so that godliness can make it all the way to your skin. Ask Him to change your thoughts so that godliness will make it to your tongue. Those who don’t know Him are watching and listening. We have the opportunity to show them who He is through our actions.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
I have heard this verse quoted hundreds of times and have probably quoted it myself dozens of times. It comes immediately after Samuel sees Jesse’s son Eliab and thinks, “this guy looks like a king.” I don’t know what made him look like a king, but apparently Samuel thought so. God interrupts Samuel’s thought process and tells him that it is the heart that counts, not the outward appearance. “What are you saying, Lord? Do you only choose ugly people?” Put your self in Samuel’s shoes; now you are looking for an ugly dude with a good heart. At least that is the conclusion I would come to.
However, this isn’t at all what happened. What follows are two references to David’s good looks. This guy was a handsome stud… and he had a good heart, too. In fact in verse 18, he is described as being a musician, brave, a warrior, well-spoken, and good-looking. He wasn’t remotely ugly and yet God chose him. The thing is: the looks were just an accessory, a bonus. They didn’t really matter to God; the heart mattered. And David’s heart was good. He loved and served the Lord. He was chosen for his heart! That is what mattered to God.
Friends, that IS what matters to God. He is after our hearts and yet some of us spend more time combing or styling our hair than we do examining our hearts before the Lord. We spend more time shopping for clothes than obeying his commands. Don’t get me wrong, clothes are good and combed hair looks nice. You can be good-looking; it’s okay. It’s just that those things are way less important to God. So I suggest we carve some time out in our lives to work on our hearts. I suggest we dedicate our whole lives to striving for His heart. In the end, that’s all that really matters.