by sarahmfry, November 04, 2005
APPEARANCE STUDY #2 - BIBLE & THEOLOGY: If you have not read my post from 10/31/05 please read it before reading this one.

2 Corinthians 5:12 says, "For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory (literally "boast") on our behalf, that you may have somewhat (be able) to answer (implied in the context) them which glory ("boast") in appearance, and not in heart."

I previously attempted to establish that outward appearance matters to God...but how much? This verse uses a different word than is found in 1 Thesslalonians 5:22, but it is a word often synonymous with it - it is the word for "face" or "presence" (prosopon). If you compare various translations it is quickly apparent that the word is somewhat vague in this context. Most versions understand it as I do - that which is visible versus that which is invisible ("in heart") in a general sense. However, the RSV and NLT understand it as a wrong attitude toward position in ministry. The context allows for this possibility, I believe, but by no means requires this narrow of a definition of prosopon. I bring up this verse because I believe it makes the point that while outward appearance matters to God, the heart condition is of primary importance. Or to state it in another way: the content is more critical than the form.

It is very easy to allow outward appearance (the form) to be the content; in other words, to define a true Christian on the basis of form rather than the content of the heart. It is my opinion that the form is critical to maintaining the content of the heart, but it is never a substitute for it. I am encouraged by several sermons I have heard preached by some of our leading preachers and evangelists lately along this line. Form should never be a substitute for a passionate desire after God. Rather, it should be a handmaiden for focusing on our pursuit and enjoyment of God. By maintaining the principles concerning form, we ought to be enabled to more fully focus on our relationship with God. Too often we have been more interested in form for form's sake and it has calcified our Christian experience. Let's practice the form for God's sake, and none else.

Just for a look ahead, I hope to cover the following principles concerning outward appearance:

1. The Principle of Separation (Romans 12:2)
2. The Principle of Self-control (1 Timothy 2:9)
3. The Principle of Sufficiency (Genesis 3:7, 21; Exodus 28:42)
4. The Principle of Stewardship (1 Timothy 2:9)
5. The Principle of Sexuality (Deuteronomy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11)
6. The Principle of Sensitivity (Romans 14)


David Fry

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