“And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.”
(1 Corinthians 12:21-23)
In today’s verse passage, the great apostle reminds us that outward appearance can be deceiving. The most outwardly attractive parts of the body, parts that grab and hold our attention such as eyelashes for example, though useful, are less crucial to the overall health of the system than some other less comely parts. This relationship between the crucial and the cosmetic extends outward to virtually every area of human experience. Most of us have heard about sleeper cars, for instance, cars with super high performance capabilities concealed beneath unassuming or even beat up looking exteriors. This difference between the crucial and the cosmetic came to unforgettable expression before my eyes many years ago when I was on a fight card in Saskatchewan. Brian, one of the young men on our kickboxing team, looked like some kind of matinée idol. He was tall and blonde with a bronzed, muscular body. He was at once impressive and intimidating. His opponent, on the other hand, was a full head shorter and appeared soft and doughy. What a shock it was for us to see this man stand up and fight like a lion! He took the fight the distance and brought the match to a split decision. In the end, the judges gave Brian the trophy, which he promptly, and publicly, handed to his much smaller but much pluckier opponent. Here I not only witnessed true sportsmanship, I was taught an important lesson in the difference between the crucial and the cosmetic. While striving to achieve something important, an impressive, cosmetic exterior often means very little. On the other hand, what is crucial often turns out to be that which was previously devalued, underestimated or overlooked. This is man’s ongoing problem it seems; he focuses on the outward and the cosmetic, forgetting that in God’s economy, a pure and good heart, invisible to man, is actually of great value (1 Samuel 16:7). The spirit of Peter’s instructions to wives applies to us all. He explained that a woman’s adorning should not be primarily outward, like the braiding of hair and the wearing of costly clothing. Rather, it should “be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3-4). May God continue to work in us what is crucial to the advancement of His Kingdom. Let us also strive to adopt God’s economy as our own, esteeming very highly those whose labor is in the Lord, even as we pursue peace among ourselves (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
God bless you, dear saints,