True Beauty

For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. – Jesus, as quoted in Luke 6:45 Berean Study Bible

I don’t remember when I first became aware of my physical appearance and began comparing myself with others. It may have been when I started school. Yeah, that early.

In first grade I wore my hair in braids.

When other girls came to school wearing nicer clothes than I had, my hand-me-downs seemed shabby and cheap.

By the time I was in third grade, my inferiority complex had taken root. That was the year I decided to cut my long, silky, straight hair and get a curly perm like the prettiest girl in class.

Well, what looked nice on her did nothing for me, except make me look like a poodle. I hated it! Lesson: What works for others may not work for you. Know thyself and be thyself.

That was the year I got glasses. Another item on the growing list of things about myself I detested.

And I always had to sit up front because of my hearing loss. I hated it! I was a marked child, labeled forever as “hard-of-hearing.” I despised that phrase! And I loathed myself.

I remember resting my head on my desk, closing my eyes, and envisioning myself in heaven, where I’d see without glasses and hear perfectly well. My hair would be long, straight, and silky once again. And I wouldn’t wear hand-me-downs.

I hid well my inferiority complex throughout my school days. It was only when I got my first job after college and could afford contact lenses and new clothes that I began to blossom.

But those attempts at bettering my physical appearance were rooted in my deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t overcome them. I simply changed my outward appearance, hoping to measure up.

But when we’re using the wrong measuring stick, we’re going to get the wrong readings.

Eventually I learned the standard of true beauty isn’t what we see on the outside, but what we are on the inside.

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him,” God told Samuel the prophet when he went to anoint the next king of Israel. “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).

What we are on the inside determines our true beauty or lack of it.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,” Jesus taught, “and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of ” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

Whatever fills you inside will eventually makes its way outside. It will overflow to do good or harm. It will leak out in unguarded moments.

I like the illustration I recently read about a person balancing a filled-to-the-brim cup. Unfortunately she tripped, and the contents spilled over on whatever was nearby.

What are the contents of your cup?

Love, peace, joy, contentment, compassion . . . these are the good things that will spill out.

But anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, hatred . . . these things are like a caustic poison, eating away at your insides and destroying your life and relationships.

You have a choice over what resides inside your heart, mind, and spirit.

Remember the story of the old Cherokee and his grandson?

“There is a battle between two wolves inside us all,” the old man told him. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

two-wolves

“Which wolf wins?” the boy asked.

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

Purify my heart, O Lord. Purge out all that displeases You and replace it with good. Then remind me to feed the right wolf. Amen.

Read and meditate on Luke 6:43–45; 1 Peter 3:3–4.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Heart Issues

Image in public domain

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 NIV

When we had a dog, it was important to give her a medication that guarded her heart against worms. Her health depended on it.

I was reminded of this when I read an article recently about teaching our children to fence in, or guard, their hearts.

As parents, we do our best to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and teach them which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. With diligent and consistent discipline, we fence in their behavior and in the process teach them to do the same thing. At least we hope so.

But behavior is one thing, heart attitude is another.

While we pray the training we give them and the example we set are automatically going to affect their heart attitudes, I wonder – we may have control over their behavior (to a point), but do we truly have control over their hearts?

Does not behavior result from heart attitude?

We may act a certain way to be accepted, please others, get what we want, but that behavior may not reflect our true heart attitude. Most of us care what others think of us, and we would be aghast if they knew the true condition of our heart – if they caught a glimpse of the ugliness we do our best to hide even from ourselves.

When I gave my heart to Jesus, I gave Him my love, my life, my loyalty, my obedience in exchange for His love in me (Galatians 5:22), His life in me (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:10), His strength in me to be true and submissive (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9–11).

But my heart is still mine to maintain. I will always have a choice to love Him, obey Him, submit to Him, follow Him.

That’s why it’s important that I guard my heart and keep it pure.

“Above all else,” Scripture tells us, “guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

How do we guard or, in the words of the article writer, fence in our heart?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6–7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

God’s peace will guard your heart if you (1) pray and leave things in God’s hands, and (2) thank Him even before you see an answer. Let go and let God do His thing.

Another way to guard your heart is to watch what you allow in. Garbage in, garbage out. Build and maintain a fence that will allow only the highest and best in. Again I quote Philippians: “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (4:8). Guard whatever your eyes see and your ears hear, for these are the pathways to the heart.

We’re also to keep our hearts pure. And we can’t do that alone.

Prayer is the key here. Only God can purify my heart and cleanse me on the inside.

And so I pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . Point out anything in me that offends you” (Psalm 139:23, 24). And again: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

How are you guarding your heart?

Be the fence around my heart, O God. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 139:23–24

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.