Unconcerned About Outward Appearance?

  Unconcerned about Outward Appearance?

QUESTION:

“I think that God is not interested in our outward appearance.  He doesn’t care what we wear and He is unconcerned about our externals.  After all, doesn’t the Bible say, “Does sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)?”

ANSWER  

It is good to remember that God is interested in the heart.  The Scriptures say that “God knows your hearts” (Luke 16:15; 1 Kings 8:39).  They say that the Lord “searches the heart” (cf. Jeremiah 17:10).  It is hypocritical for one to try to dress properly when his heart is evil and sinful.

However, sometimes this principle is misused.  In the case of 1 Samuel 16:7, God wanted Samuel to pass over the other sons of Jesse and choose the younger son, David, to be the next ruler in Judah.  The emphasis here is that some might look at the older sons and think that God would want one of them.  But, instead, God wanted the one of His choosing, the one who had a soft and trustful and submissive heart, one whose heart was entirely devoted to the God of Israel.  We must not twist this passage to make it mean God isn’t concerned about what we wear.

God very much is concerned about how we appear before others.  Just as something external like words reveal the condition of our heart (Matthew 12:34-35), so our outward appearance likewise shows where our heart lies.  Paul emphasizes that the woman is not do dress immodestly or improperly, for women who “make a claim to godliness” must be clothed in a godly manner (1 Timothy 2:9-10).  Likewise, Peter tells his readers that they should dress properly outwardly and this is to reveal “the hidden person of the heart.”  Inwardly, these sisters are to have “a gentle and quiet spirit” for this is “precious to the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Just as clothing can reveal an immoral attitude and a “cunning” heart (Proverbs 7:10), so our decent, pure, modest, fitting, appropriate, Christian clothing can reveal a heart of one who has a fear and respect for God.

Sometimes it is helpful to think of extremes in order to see the basic fallacy of an argument.  Consider this: What if a woman came to the public meeting of the Christians and proceeded to walk in front of the crowd, wearing nothing more than a tiny bikini!  She might profess, “My heart is pure and I love God, thus it doesn’t make any difference how much or how little I wear!  After all, God only looks at the heart!”  Probably all of us see through the emptiness of this logic.  It does matter what we wear and, in this case, this immodest clothing surely would reveal an immoral heart and base perspective.  She could not worship God in this manner and she would not be showing love for all of the others in the meeting ( Romans 13:10; 1 Corinthians 13:4ff).  This valid principle is true of other examples that are not as extreme as this. 

Let’s make sure that our outward clothing and appearance reflects our total devotion to God and His kingdom!  See also our other articles in True Discipleship that pertain to this issue.

Richard Hollerman

 

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