“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
How concerned are you about appearances? How important is it to you what others think?
For many of us, we are more concerned about the outward appearance than what’s truly going on in our lives. For me, this has been true in parenting, in losing weight and in many aspects of life. Am I being authentic or am I trying to look like the ideal? How much do I care about what the public thinks about me verses what God thinks?
I must humbly admit that this issue has struck a chord with me lately.
In my own weight loss journey, I realized that I would never look like a super model (has anyone else ever felt the discouragement that comes from this realization?). After three children, my skin will never be perfect, my abs may never have that ultimate six-pack look, and my proportions may never be that of someone who gracefully walks down a runway in 5″ heels. I may never be the perfect tan with the perfect hair and the perfect make-up, wearing the perfect outfit and the perfect jewelry.
As I was feeling the disappointment related to these thoughts, I began overindulging a little here and there again. After all, my husband loves me the way I am, right? I’ll never be perfect, so why not enjoy this snack I’m not even hungry for? I can probably work most of it off anyway…
Then as I realized that it’s still a sin to overindulge. Plain and simple. If I believe that I’m to treat my body as holy because it belongs to God, then giving into temptation is still sin. My working out may keep me from packing on the pounds as quickly, but that’s more about outward appearance than where my heart is.
I just finished reading a book called “Runner’s World COMPLETE BOOK OF WOMEN’S RUNNING: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance” by Dagny Scott Barios (2007). In the nutrition section of the book, the author states “Once you’ve reached your target weight, the calories you burn while running can negate many sins of overindulgence” (Barios, 2007, p. 175). I was surprised that in this secular book on running that the author called it “sins of overindulgence.” It was an expression, but I think it’s more than just that…
I don’t want to focus on just the appearance of doing well – letting my calorie burn hide what’s truly going on. God doesn’t necessarily care about my pants size as much as He cares about my heart and my worship. I can’t focus all my attention on food (whether that’s indulging my cravings OR diet planning) and focus all my attention on God. My heart needs to be worshiping the Lord first and foremost. When my heart is earnestly seeking after Him, I will make better decisions…and for the right reasons.
I may never look ”model perfect’ but my prayer is that God would change my heart and that it would be beautiful. May my outside be a reflection of my inside rather than just a ‘show’ or appearance.
This week, I’ve gone back to examining my original desires for starting this journey. (Can you relate to any of them?)
- I want to be healthy. I don’t want to die young of something I could have prevented.
- In being healthy, I truly want to be fit for service. Can I serve others when I don’t feel my best? Not as well…
- I want to be able to keep up with my kids. I don’t want them to be ashamed of having me come to their school or be around their friends. (Ditto for my husband.)
- I want to live a life with self-control that comes from the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
- I want to be able to say no and not have to be chained to temptation.
- I want to be able to distinguish between what’s holy and what’s common – making every effort to keep myself holy as a sign of thankfulness to God.
- I want to worship God alone and not ‘stuff’ of this world that can entangle me.
While man looks at outward appearance, God looks at the heart. Let’s remember that this week as we go about our days. Are our actions for appearance? Or are they more important, more relevant, more authentic?
Dear Heavenly Father, we first want to thank You for being holy. You are an amazing God! Thank You for knowing the whole picture – for not just looking at what seems to be true but actually understanding our hearts, our desires and our motivations. Thank You that You are a big God who can change even our heart as well as our outward appearance. We humbly confess that we’ve been too concerned with what people think rather than what You think. Please forgive us for caring more about appearances than our heart condition. We want to repent and do the opposite. May we continue on this journey of weight loss for the right reasons. May we be fit for service and a reflection of Your goodness and glory rather than a selfish and proud person who desires more recognition. May we serve You faithfully during this journey and lead others to know the hope that is in You alone. We humbly as that you make us healthy and thin for Your purpose and Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!