The Altar of Appearance

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”—1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV)

What I’m about to share isn’t much of a “hot take.” It’s something most of us know all too well: Our society places a tremendous amount of value in the outward appearance of a person. We could go so far as to say that we, as a culture, actually worship our appearances!

Sound audacious? If worship is based on the act of sacrifice, consider what we sacrifice for the sake of having the perfect outward appearance. 

We spend an incredible amount of our energy pressing, pumping, and pushing our bodies into an ideal shape. We also sacrifice a tremendous amount of time primping and preening in order to get that perfect “look” in order to feel somewhat confident in the presence of others. And when it comes to resources, it would shock most of us to go through our bank account and add up what we’ve spent in the past month on things that only have an outward benefit.

Our culture does, in fact, encourage us to worship at the altar of appearance; and we often oblige. That’s our reality, and unfortunately, we subtly start to adopt the same set of values being imposed on us. We’re told our looks are what matter most, and we begin to judge other people according to that standard. Before we know it, we subliminally attach a value to each person we pass, just based on their outward appearance.

God calls us in a different direction, the opposite direction. He tells us that a person’s outward appearance doesn’t reveal the true “them,” and therefore doesn’t hold much value. The far greater value lies on the inside, in the “hidden person of the heart.” That is where someone is truly defined, and that is where the Lord is looking as He looks at a person’s life. He emphasized this to the prophet Samuel, who couldn’t believe a shepherd boy named David was to become Israel’s next king: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV).

If the Lord values the inside far above the outside, then so should we. It won’t be easy because our cultural current is constantly flowing the opposite way. But we are to be people who follow God, not the world. And God would have us recalibrate what we’ve been conditioned to believe about the outward appearance. A person’s true “beauty” isn’t found on their surface. It can only be found in a heart that is being shaped day by day into Christ’s likeness!

DIG: What does out society continually encourage us to worship? 

DISCOVER: What is the fallout of this mindset?

DO: How does God want us to view and value the beauty in others? Check your heart and see if it aligns with God’s in this matter.