The Relationship that Renews

Our lives are not really what people see on the surface. If we, as individuals, are defined by only what people see, wouldn’t we have to look at ourselves in a mirror all day long to figure out we are? Instead, we tend to define who we are by our feelings, values, emotions, thoughts, and more. We don’t look in the mirror to see our spirits; we reflect internally to discover the heart that lies beneath. Our value is not defined by what we look like, but it is defined by the beauty of our lives behind the looks.

Quick context: I proofed a magazine article today that encouraged women to intensify their makeup looks and diversify their beauty arsenals, to dress fashionably, and to look to others for ways we can improve our appearances. I have a serious problem with the simplicity and shallowness of articles and advice like this. Makeup is meant to enhance natural beauty, fashion is the choice of a whim, and your inner-being is separate from the appearances of others. Basically, looks don’t mean everything, and we are SO MUCH MORE than what people see.

We live in a time that tells us, “Good appearances equal finding love, joy, security, and happiness.” Our compliments usually revolve around clothes, good looks, or qualities that we see. Folks, the truth is this: We fall in love because of kindness, affection, time, presence, etc. – qualities and conditions that exist outside of good looks (as good looks are only the first impression!). Our happiness comes from things that affect our lives, not from just looking fine. Don’t get me wrong here, either. Looks and personal care have immense value, as our bodies aren’t created without value. In Christ, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and they should be treated as such. But, beyond caring about your looks, let your focus be on the inner condition of your heart and the beauty of the life that you live.

Do a heart check. Do you care so much about your outside appearance that you don’t care about your heart and care for others? Is your life being lived to serve yourself first? When was the last time you looked outside yourself for value beyond your looks? If you have a ✔✔ next to even one of these questions at any given time, you are human, just like everyone else. For all of humanity, this is the gritty, raw truth. It’s a universal issue. *Whew, glad that’s settled* Because now, we can face the solution.

Looks and self-esteem are a battle that men and women face everyday, but they’re not worth the gunpowder. Did someone ever tell you that looks are deceiving? Beauty is vain, and charm is deceptive. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Unfading beauty did you say? It’s the spirit, plain and simple. It’s what lies beneath the surface that makes us beautiful, and it’s so fitting that our Creator knew we’d struggle with vanity and gave us hope outside of ourselves. Christ renews our inner beauty as we rely on him. When he saves us, Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” God removes that cold heart of yours toward others, the selfish human heart, and replaces it with a tender heart of His making. Then, 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “So we do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” This new heart is lasting, and it is renewed while our outside remains imperfect. No big deal, we’re mortal. Big deal, our soul is eternal. I’d rather have this eternal heart that is renewed than have a temporary façade that is gorgeous. Finally, 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” God gives us the pure heart, our life is to reflect that purity through our actions, and we are to rely on our relationship with Christ to love others.

So there you have it. Your outside is temporary and wasting away. You are worth much more than the looks you have, and the value of a pure heart is eternal and God-given. Are you selfish today? Think about the gift that God gave you. It’s not often that we get to unwrap gifts and marvel at the bits of love that people took the time to make or find for us. Yet every moment, Christ is willing to renew our hearts and gift us with a pure self. Look to the relationship that renews, and your truest beauty will be unfading.