Looking Good
On the outside
Kathy Bernard  -  Publisher

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance,
 but the Lord looks at the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7


Today we live in a world where appearance seems to reign supreme and we have become captivated and fanatical with how we look to others.   Expensive name brand clothing, shoes and having the latest hair style is of utmost concern and considered to be that final stamp of success.

So what is wrong with this picture?

If I make external things into idols, in essence putting value on "me" rather than putting value on the inside by living the life God wants me to live, material things may become an impediment to my spirituality with Jesus Christ.  My time becomes entangled with earthly desires and matters, shutting out the God Who gave me life.  We overlook the fact that beauty, talent, success, money, houses, jewelry and everything we own comes from a loving God. 

God does not call me to go beyond the ordinary necessity of need.  He wants me to enjoy things in this life, but in moderation.  The ordinary should mean being clean, neat and attractive without forgetting who I am as a Christian Catholic.  This does not mean I must not look stylish, it means that I must not spend all my time on external things to the detriment of putting our Lord second in our lives.  To be vain about appearance is likened to worship of self. 

Outward appearance can be very deceptive though many of us want to believe what our eyes see and tell us.  Seeming perfection in others command our attention because it appeals to our senses.  We admire and listen to those who seem to have it all together and we try to emulate them, even though we do not really know who they are or how they live in their private lives.  Like a beautiful and shiny apple teasing the palate and presented in pleasing perfection on the outside, the inside could be rotten.    

Jesus tells us in Matthew 23:27-28, "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.  Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness." 

Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser, theologian, teacher, and award-winning author, has this to say about outward appearance, " We are a people obsessed with appearance, with image, with looking good, with being good-looking.  For us today, by and large, it is more important to look good than to be good, to look healthy than to be healthy, to say the right things than to do the right things, to be connected to the right persons than to be the right persons, and to be perceived as having character than to actually have character."

"This is evident in our obsession with physical appearance, in the hagiography we accord to our celebrities, in the importance we give to style and fashion, and in our efforts to be perceived as connected to the right things. Image really is everything!  We see this, for example, in politics: In public life today, image trumps substance.  Invariably we care less about someone’s policies than about his or her appearance and we elect people to public offices more on the basis of persona than on intellect and character.  In politics today it is more important to have the right image, to be able to surround yourself with the right energy, than it is to have substance and character."

Sadly we are paying a high price for this. Our concern to look good is crucifying us. We are growing ever more dissatisfied with our own bodies, even when they are healthy and serving us well. A healthy self-image today is more contingent upon looking good than on actually being healthy. The prevalence of anorexia, among other things, is a symptom of this and, too often, our dieting and exercise have less to do with health than with appearance."

"When image is everything, gradually, without us noticing, appearance begins to look like character, celebrity begins to look like nobility of soul, and looking good becomes more important than being good.".... "More and more, in our lives, appearance is what we are most concerned about.  For many of us, how we look is the first thing, the whole thing, and the only thing.  It’s not so important that we be good, only that we look good." -  Father Ron is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. He can be contacted through his website www.ronrolheiser.com.

In today's society, a strong and visual appearance is highly rated because it is a nonverbal communication that can either be a positive force or turn others away even before the person speaks.  What we are doing is making sure others will see and admire us.  Even an extra pound becomes an albatross to us.  However, what others see is not who we really are, for it is what is on the inside that really counts and it radiates its own beauty to the outside.  Consider Jesus Christ Who came to earth and gave the gift of eternal life to mankind while dressed in common clothes without artifice. 

God wants us to clarify our priorities.   Let us ask the Lord to help us avoid the superficial and give us the desire to develop our inner spiritual beauty which will shine from the soul.  Through this will come a resplendence more powerful than external trappings because it will emanate from within us.... a powerful glow that can only come from a clean spirit and a pure heart.   

"Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry,
or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that
comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet
spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4


Please use the link at the top left side of this page
to comment or be added to the mailing list.