Looking good!

by Pastor Doug Engel

A long time ago in a province far, far away (not that far ... Saskatchewan) I got off the bus and headed to my classroom as usual. To my utter surprise it was picture day! “Nooooo!” My goodness, I would have wore something nice and perhaps washed my hair! I looked like no one loved me (at least in my own mind), kind of a greaseball. Yes, I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it then. Somewhere I have a yearbook picture to prove it!

That got me thinking. What kind of effort do I put into looking good? The first thing I will confess is that I don’t personally spend a lot of money on makeup ... ok, no money on makeup. Are you shocked? All kidding aside, I try to wear nice clothes, not necessarily the top brands (unless there was a sale). I brush my teeth and wash my hair (less and less hair to deal with all the time). I take the time to shave and trim my goatee in the morning. It’s not an over-the-top effort but it works for me.

I know that under normal circumstances men and women look at these things differently. Daniel Hamermesh was the lead author of a study done 10 years ago. In that study he suggested that a handsome man is poised to make 13 percent more during his career than a “looks-challenged” peer. The numbers are similar for you sports enthusiasts. “Homely quarterbacks earn 12 percent less than their easy-on-the-eyes rivals.” Crazy! Who decides which quarterbacks are homely?

The pursuit of looking good drives several gigantic industries. For example, a facelift will cost between $7,000 and $12,000 US. There are a lot of surgeons to meet the high demand. In 2021 Americans spent over $14.6 billion dollars on aesthetic procedures. And yet, Maxwell Maltz, a pioneer plastic surgeon, admitted that although he could make people look good on the outside, on the inside they often remained exactly the same, unhappy and unsatisfied. His advice was to put a greater amount of effort on the inner mental attitudes.

I think Peter would agree with Dr. Maltz. The Apostle wrote to Christian women, “What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition” (1 Peter 3:3-4 msg). It’s important to note that Peter isn’t discouraging the use of cosmetic products but is telling his readers to keep the right perspective. Years ago I heard J. Vernon McGee talk about this passage on a radio broadcast. “It’s my opinion,” he said, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!”

That brings me to another question. How do you make sure you look good on the inside?

First, God made you. He knows you inside and out ... even the number of hairs on your head. Also, the Bible says that “... the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). So, your first concern is what God sees.

Second, our bodies are temporary. Paul told the church at Corinth that “... we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). As one doctor told my father-in-law, most of us will deteriorate right on schedule!

Third, smile. It really is the quickest way to improve your appearance. If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours. It won’t cost anything. It will brighten their day and yours too.