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May 12, 2014

The Inner Person

Categories: Biblical

“So it is with the fear of the Lord before us that we try to persuade people. Moreover, God knows us as we really are; and I hope that in your consciences you too know us as we really are. We are not recommending ourselves to you again but giving you a reason to be proud of us, so that you will be able to answer [or refute] those who boast about a person’s appearance rather than his inner qualities.
— 2 Corinthians 5:11, 12 (CJB, emphasis supplied; words in brackets supplied)

* * *

God has consistently taught us to value the “inner person”, rather than the outward appearance. He commends and rewards our efforts to “do justly”, “love mercy” and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

The world has not hidden the fact that they do not value what God values. People do exactly opposite to what the Bible commends: they, rather, glorify a “person’s appearance rather than his/her inner qualities”.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”
— Proverbs 16:16 (NKJV)

“Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish,
that the outside of them may be clean also.”
— Matthew 23:26

You can say that it’s a “law” of sorts: God consistently points us to deal with inner values, before outward appearance. We have many positive and negative examples of this: God’s selection of David as king; Achan hiding treasure in his tent; Saul (later Paul) selected by God as an apostle. As far as I can see, the Bible seems to highlight this theme.

Yet, I see a disturbing trend in our churches, where young (and old!) persons have made an “about-face” on the issue, placing appearance at the top of the list of important things. The sad thing about this is that they have placed themselves in a position to learn first-hand what they could have learned by heeding the examples laid out in the Bible.

As challenging as it is to deal with “inner” issues, this is God’s plan for solving the issues in our lives. Rotten tempers, untamed passions and desires, covetous eyes, prideful and selfish hearts… all these will destroy the soul temple, along with all the good we attempt to do in this life. Attempts to cover these up with clothing, eloquent speech, smiles, and material things will meet with God’s disapproval, and signal failure. This is a consistent theme of the Bible.

I pray that each of us stand on the right side of this issue. It seems that there are many professed Christians around to encourage us to indulge our carnal desires; but let us throw off the yolks of worldlikeness, and commit daily to the attainment of the inner qualities of the heart, which God longs to see in us.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control.

Nothing in the Torah stands against such things.”
— Galatians 5:22, 23 (CJB)


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