Martin Wiles: The Inside’s More Important
The outside looked terrible, but the inside was another story.
I looked at the text: “Can you call me when you get a second.” It came from my father’s only sister. We hadn’t corresponded much over the years and had done so even less since my father had died. When I called, she told me she had a few items that belonged to my grandmother. She thought I might want them. Of course, I did. I love old things, especially if they belonged to a family member.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.~Philippians 4:8 NLT
A couple of weeks later, my wife and I headed for the Lowcountry of South Carolina to get a cedar chest, a small night table, and possibly a piano. I knew the piano wouldn’t return with us. We didn’t have the manpower, but I remembered the cedar chest and night table sitting in my grandmother’s bedroom. I couldn’t wait to add them to my family collection of items I hoped my children would one day want and later pass along to their children.
Both items had been sitting in an outside utility building for years. The hot and cold temperatures had done their work. The nightstand had withstood the temps well. The cedar chest . . . well, not so much.
After getting the items to our house, we carefully placed the cedar chest in front of our bedroom window. The veneer peeled off in various places, but the real wood areas were in good shape. I took out the lemon oil and soaked her down. A glimmer of a shine returned.
But when I opened the lid, I got a surprise. The inside was in perfect condition. And it was a true cedar chest, complete with smell and label. I have no plans to restore the outside—I want it to remain in its original condition—but I wish it looked like the inside. Also inside were other jewels my grandmother had crocheted.
“…or you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.“~Matthew 23:27 NLT
Jesus encountered some folks whose outsides and insides didn’t match either: the religious leaders. Oh, they did everything right religiously and morally on the outside, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s, but Jesus said their insides were filthy. They did an excellent job of putting on a show.
The ways we try to alter our outsides when we don’t enjoy how they appear are numerous—and costly and perhaps unhealthy. They also prove futile if we think altering the outside will change our inside. We might temporarily feel better about ourselves—we might even gain a few so-called friends in the process—but our elation will be short-lived. In the end, unhappiness will catch up with us.
Until we let God change our insides by His grace through forgiveness—and until we realize just how much God loves us and wants us as His children—we’ll never know satisfaction by only altering our outward appearance. Outside stuff is temporary; inside stuff is permanent.
We often judge by others’ outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. And when we learn to see ourselves—and others—as God does, we won’t overly concern ourselves with the outside. We’ll just want to keep the inside tidied up by having a close relationship with God.
What are some ways you can keep your inside pretty?
Father God, remind me that my inside is far more important than my outside. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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