Have you ever considered how much time and money people spend on their appearance? Concern over one’s looks is a universal and timeless condition as people the world over, throughout the ages, have spent countless sums of money on their appearance. The list of expenditures includes clothes, hair maintenance, and grooming supplies, as well as manicures, facials, plastic surgeries, and much more.

And if you are a guy, don’t think that appearances are only important to women. It is reported that men are rapidly growing in the amount they spend on their looks too. The Princeton Press reports, “The average American male spends thirty-two minutes on a typical day washing, dressing, and grooming, while the average American wife spends forty-four minutes.”[1] (She’s really not spending that much more time than we are, guys).

While thinking about appearances, I’ve often wondered, “What did Jesus look like?” It’s a question that people have been fascinated with for almost two thousand years. I’m certain we can forget about those iconic images of the Caucasian Hollywood leading-man type we so commonly see.  The fact is that as a Middle Eastern Jew, he probably had dark hair and skin and, at least because of his appearance, he didn’t stand out from the crowd.

One of the unique aspects of the Bible is that it spends so little time on the physical descriptions of people. Does anyone really know what Abraham, Sarah, or Moses looked like? There are times when God gives us a physical detail, such as Goliath being a giant, or Ehud being left-handed, but in almost all of those cases the details are important aspects to the point of the story.

In the case of King Saul, we are told that he was “handsome” and “stood head and shoulders above everyone else,” (1 Sam. 9:2). This made him the people’s ideal of what a king should look like.  The point was that the king that had the “right appearance” he fell far short of the qualities that God looks for. Later, even the prophet Samuel, when looking for Saul’s replacement, saw Jesse’s son Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But God reminded Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

We all have to be careful to not fall victim to the deception of outward appearances. Let’s face it, none of us got to choose our body type, hair color, race, or gender. These are not the things that matter at all to God. God could not care less what we look like on the outside. But we all do have control over what we look like on the inside—the appearance of our hearts.

[1] The Economics of Beauty; (Princeton Press); http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9516.pdf