The class reunions, the family reunions, the vacation at the beach, the afternoons at the neighborhood pool – and all those judgments you’re imagining are taking place in the heads of onlookers or in their conversations behind your back! “Wow, she’s really gained weight!” “What a shame; she used to be so pretty.” “She’s really let herself go.” “Does she know how bad she looks?” “She shouldn’t be eating that!” “No wonder she never married/never remarried.”
Yes, some people may indeed think this way, but more importantly, the fact that you’re imagining that they think this way reveals that you probably think this way too.
But God does not think this way! This was made clear when he said to Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, NIV). And regarding your heart, Scripture says, “God…made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6, NIV). You’ve got a great heart! And that’s what God is judging.
Given the emphasis on “outward appearance” that prevails in our culture, it can be an uphill battle to turn off the imagined judgments in our heads. But concentrating on the truth does indeed lead to freedom (John 8:32). When we see ourselves as God sees us, we can actually feel sorry for anyone who judges us according to worldly standards, because they are revealing an impoverished view of God’s standards, character, and work within the believer.
Even Jesus “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Is. 53:2, NIV). We are currently living in “jars of clay” (a reference to frailty and plainness). But “we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16, NIV). Concentrating on the preciousness of Christ in us turns our minds away from how we look on the outside and places more value on the inward or unseen. “For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18, NIV).
When faced with imaginary – or even real – judgments about your size, age, or appearance, answer with the judgment God has already pronounced about you, “You are of great worth in my sight” (1 Pet. 3:4).