The Outward Show: Holiness from the Inside Out
by Joseph Franks
Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Man looks at the outward show, but God looks at the inward soul.
However, that being said, let us not forget that both God and man see the outward appearance, and this is of immense importance. Outward appearances matter. The show that men are watching ought to be impressive to men so that they see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
Friends, the problem with the Pharisees was not their external piety. No, the characteristic of these men which was deplorable to Jesus was their lack of interest on an internal purity that matched their outward show. It was their duplicity and hypocrisy that offended Jesus, and not their dutiful holiness.
In contrast, Jesus Christ was one who kept God’s Law from the inside out. His insides were pure as he worshiped God with all of his heart, soul, and mind. Consequently, this was appreciated by the Father and recognized by all his neighbors who witnessed Jesus’ worshiping with all his strength. Jesus worshiped with heart and hands, with his will and works, with his thinking and his talking, with his character and his conduct. His inner show was impressive to his Father. His outward show was impressive to his Father and his brothers.
Therefore, how is your external show? How is your Christian testimony? Are you an example of the believer in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity? (1 Tim. 4:12) Are you like Jesus? Are you like the honorable elder?
1 Timothy 3:1-7 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
While all — men and women — ought not think you have been called to the office of elder, all of you ought to desire the characteristics of an elder. In this short paragraph, several characteristics of the noble individuals are listed. Notice the external show. Are you:
- Above reproach; vetting finds nothing scandalous in your life
- Faithfully married
- Wise in your thinking
- Competent in controlling your urges and lusts
- Respected by your neighbors
- Charitable with your time and treasures and open to fellowship
- Competent in the Scriptures so your can teach others
- Not addicted to various substances
- Gentle and meek in words and deeds
- Agreeable and not contentious
- Not materialistic
- Faithful in relation to those who know you best — your family
- Humble and maturing in the faith
Friends, do not come to the conclusion that the outward show is a matter of indifference. For, when your outward show, matches your inward reality, before God and man you look like an elder. Better than this, you look like Jesus Christ.
Do not think the outward show is all that matters, but do not think the outward show matters not.
Like Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, become worshipers of God from the inside to the outside. Let the inner glow manifest itself in a glorious outward show. Go and be holy. Go and look holy.