Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Man's Character Vs. His Outward Appearance

I love when It’s peach season because I love peaches.  The other day I had one that was from a local source.  It looked amazing.  I thought, ‘now that is going to be a good peach’.  I bit into it with all the expectations of having a great peach, and it was NOT!  It was dry and mealy.  It had little flavor.  I was disappointed.  Here I had this peach that by all outward appearances should have been a great peach.  But the insides were awful.  Some of the best peaches I’ve eaten were not that glamorous on the outside, but the fruit was amazing!

In ancient Israel, when the prophet Samuel was struggling to find a king to replace Saul, the Lord answered him saying,  ‘For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.’ 1 Samuel, 16:7

Now to juxtapose the sacred with the secular: Jack Black is one of my favorite comic actors.   He starred in a Movie called ‘Shallow Hal’ back in 2001.  While this was about his relationship with women, the same principle applies with any relationship including men's relationships.  In the movie he was only interested in outwardly attractive women and was disparaging of those he deemed unattractive.  In a turn of events, he had the opportunity to see others as they would look if their inside appearance were their outward appearance.  Beautiful women were ugly, while those who were not as outwardly attractive appeared beautiful to him. Of course the outcome is that he fell in love with a woman who was an amazing person on the inside, but could be considered less attractive on the outside.  In the course of the movie, he learned the lesson that we can’t judge a person by how they look on the outside.

It breaks my heart to think of the times that I may have passed up what could have been a meaningful relationship or friendship in my life because I cared too much about the outward appearance of someone, instead of taking the time to look into their heart and find out the real person inside.

We live in a world obsessed with the superficial.  Media has told us that as long as a person looks good they are good.  Our politicians have to be television ready and polished at all times. We are overly critical of appearance.  Comments like, ‘ That person should be ashamed to be on TV.  They can’t speak at all.’ or ‘Wow! he really let himself go.  Isn’t he embarrassed at how much weight he’s gained?’, only perpetuate our passion for the ‘perfect’ image.  

And it’s not just our media, it bleeds into our home life as well.  We can’t be happy with simple countertops.  We deserve - no, we NEED - the best marble countertops and stainless steel appliances - afterall, how could you live without them?  We can’t be happy if our backyard isn’t perfectly landscaped and our house doesn’t look like it came out of a magazine the day after we buy it.  We obsess about the kind of car someone drives or what their children look like.

I think as a culture we have lost sight of what is important.  We place emphasis on things that don’t matter and make those things, which have little meaning, of critical urgency.  And in doing so, we have missed out on human relations.  The outwardly beautiful are praised and showered with accolades while the plain are left in the dust; even if those who are outwardly plain have a much better character than those who are considered beautiful.  

I was talking with a person who is several years younger than me about a politician.  The young man was enamored with this politician’s command for language and how energetic and handsome he was.  He would say, ‘He is such a good speaker! How could I not vote for him?’.  I asked the young man, ‘But do you know anything of his work ethic?  What about his policies or background in leadership? Has he done anything to prove he will be a good leader?’.  The young man looked perplexed as if I were speaking a foreign language; as if he couldn’t understand that anything but the politicians looks and oratorical prowess could matter.  

God, however, looks at the inside of a person.  God knows our spirits and hearts.  Just because a person can’t speak well doesn’t make them an idiot.  They just have a problem speaking.   Someone may not be what we consider attractive physically, but they may be the most generous and loving person you could ever meet.  I have met men who say they are vain and only want to be around other good-looking people/men.  While I can’t blame them for wanting to be around good-looking men, how many wonderful relationships are we passing up because we are concerned too much with the outside?

As I get older, relationships mean more to me than appearances.  Perhaps this is where aging has an advantage.  I feel I am better able to look beyond the physical traits of a person and see the inside.  As I let more and more people into my circle without regard to their appearance, I find I learn so much more.  I gain greater love as well.  

Let’s not let a good relationship be sacrificed because we are too vain to allow someone in.  We need to seek out the friendship of other men who are going to lift us up and be true friends and good influences in our lives.  This should be regardless of their outward appearance.  We need to remember to look at them as God looks at them - their inward appearance.  


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