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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

From the Inside-Out

Can you judge a book by its cover? I’m an author so I understand the necessity of a great book title, graphics, and description, long before anyone actually opens the book. So, for this reason I know there are probably hundreds upon hundreds of amazing books that get overlooked simply because the outside cover doesn’t measure up.

So, can you judge a book by its cover? Yes, unfortunately— it matters more than you realize.

And this is pretty much what Paul was trying to communicate to the Thessalonians in his first letter. 

Each of you “…should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5 NKJV).

In other words, if your outside “cover” looks just like those who don’t know God, how will they know the beautiful salvation you carry on the inside of you?

The Message Translation continues and says,

“Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God’s concerns, and he will take care of them. We’ve warned you about this before. God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, grungy life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside” (1 Thessalonians 4:6-7 MSG). 

The world can sometimes look like they have it all together, but that’s kind of the opposite of my earlier book illustration. The world can have a great outside cover but when you open the “book” there’s not much there. 

God works from the inside out. What I mean is, you and I should never judge a person by the outside first. Transformation starts in the heart. And from the heart, little by little, the outside gets restyled. So you can see what a disappointment it would be if a believer looked great on the outside but had little substance on the inside. 

When God sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king, Samuel assumed it would be one of the older, more mature brothers. 

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his 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 NKJV).

Let me give another illustration because I don’t want us to forget how valuable everyone is to God. Suppose I offered a group of people a $20 dollar bill. I expect every hand would raise. Who wouldn’t want free money? But what if I took that same $20 dollar bill and wadded it up, threw it on the ground, crushed it in the dirt under my foot, and then offered it again to the same crowd? Would they still want it? Of course they would— because it still has value.

Now suppose a child takes that wadded up money to the register at a candy store and hands it to a clerk to pay for his bubble gum. The first thing the clerk would do is smooth out the money to see its denomination (value). The value was there all along but not clearly seen.

This is why God has asked you and I to let the inside show up on the outside. Our value is intact, but can the world really see what we have to offer if we look and sound like them? 

God looks at the heart but He wants your heart to show up in your life. You and I are His calling card of love, grace, peace, joy, and so much more. In a troubled and hurting world, people are looking for more. It’s “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27). So let Him also be seen “outside of you.” 

Copyright © Sept. 2021 Daphne Delay, used with permission.

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