Pastor's Pen: Does God care how I look?

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his outward appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)

We read this verse and then tell our kids that God doesn’t care what we look like on the outside, He’s concerned with the inside. Then when they become teenagers and their style of dress changes we tell them that they need to dress better. So which is it? Does God care about the outside or not? Well, I think it’s both/and not either/or.

In 1 Samuel, Samuel, the prophet, was judging whether a man would be a good king by the fact he was older or taller or mightier looking.

God, however, is not limited by someone’s height or strength. He wanted someone, unlike Saul, who would be committed to following Him rather than being prideful and doing it their own way. Many times we look at the outside of a person and say, “They aren’t too skinny or wide or too tall or too short. Their eyes aren’t too squinty. They don’t have strange birth defects or physical drawbacks or a different skin color. I don’t mind spending time with them.” Even as adults we tend to shy away from those who are physically different from ourselves. God doesn’t shy away. He looks at the heart. David tells us in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

Those are the things we cannot necessarily choose. We’re all designed uniquely different and God can use anyone with any one of those differences if their heart is dedicated to Him.

But what about the things we choose for the outside – the way we dress, put ourselves together, etc. — does God care about that? I think you need only look at creation for the answer. Genesis 1 tells us that, “God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” And Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” The beauty that God created shows that He cares.

Also, the fact that we are to concern ourselves with one another should cause us to make wise decisions on our appearance. 1 Corinthians 10:23 tells us that “not all things are helpful….not all things edify”. The implication is that I should do things that are helpful and encouraging to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

And 1 Corinthians 10:31-32 says to “…do all to the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble…” Is my outward appearance taking from God or causing others to sin? That is something I must consider. It’s not that we all need to wear the same style – it’s not suits vs jeans – it’s, “Can I or how can I honor God within this style?”

So does God about your outward appearance? Yes and no. The fact is, if your heart is right with God then the outward part will follow suit and you will be a vessel He can truly use.

For more on this read Ezekiel 16:9-15, 1 Timothy 2:8-10, 1 Peter 3:3-4, Philippians 2:3-4