Tattered Jeans and Our Outward Appearance

I was greatly encouraged as I sat and looked up podcasts of one of my favorite preachers. This minister happens to be a lovely lady whom I’ve been very encouraged through her ministry in the past 6 years or so. I’ve not had great access to the Internet recently and I’ve certainly not had enough to stream or download videos in Africa. Upon watching 3 of her teachings and downloading a 4th, I noticed that she was wearing only 2 outfits between the 4 podcasts. What was interesting is that two of them were in random churches she was visiting and the other two were in her home church within a year of each other. Her full outfit was shown on the home church screen and I noticed that the pair of jeans she had on were a bit frayed in the back as if they’d been stepped on often. This isn’t a high-definition camera either and it was clearly obvious that her jeans were tattered in the back…and I smiled.

I smiled because here I am currently sitting here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my hometown wearing borrowed clothes because all of my summer clothes are currently 12,000 miles away save a t-shirt or two.I smiled because this woman is well-known and while she always looks decent and put together, she’s clearly not consumed about what she wears.I smiled because it conveyed that she was more invested financially in the Kingdom that her own wardrobe. I smiled because the reality is, none of us should be consumed by our outward appearance, but we are often and this was a redeeming example to look to.

I remember coming across a post on Facebook from another well-known woman in ministry a few years ago. She wrote how she had just had her hair colored for a conference because as she said, “let’s be honest ladies, God may look at our heart, but women look at our hair”. I quickly scanned the over 1,000 comments that were growing by the minute and many said things like, “ I could never speak to that many women unless I lost weight”, or “I would color my hair too and maybe have liposuction and a nose job”! The comments weren’t all so extreme, but many reflected insecurities that would’ve intimidated them from speaking to a group of women on the scale this minister was going to do. I love this particular speaker as well and I don’t fault her at all for saying what she said. I get it. I think that we all do. However, is that the way we should view ourselves?

Do we care too much about our outward appearance? Do we try to buy the newest and greatest things only to make up the outward appearance? And are we critical of ourself and others based on how we are dressed? One glance at Facebook or Pinterest reveals that women care about their outward appearance a lot…oh and babies, puppies, and pumpkin everything, which is perfectly acceptable ;)

Quite honestly I rarely pay attention to what either of these women wear when they’re speaking or how they’re highlights look. I just happened to notice a unique top being repeated and it made me look closer. The reason that I don’t notice if these two women are dressed in expensive clothes or have a $200 hair do, is because I’m not watching them to see what they look like outwardly, I’m watching them to see who they are inwardly. I listen to their words because they bring life and truth from God’s word. I hear their maturity of having walked down paths ahead of me in life. And I receive their impartation of hope and identity to be the daughter of God that I’m called to be.

That’s what I want to do for you, whomever you are reading this post. I want you to feel empowered to be YOU (and yes even if you are a man—sorry you endured this female encouragement)! I don’t want you to feel like you have to go spend a lot of your paycheck on making up your outward self or keeping up with popular trends. Yes, I want you to be confident and feel comfortable, but I don’t want you consumed with it. I want you to be so excited and consumed with Jesus that you look to Him in all that you do. That you spend more time in His word and encouraging your faith, than you spend time doing your hair and makeup everyday. I want you to realize that your inward beauty is what REALLY matters. When you spend time on your purity of heart, no one will notice your tattered jeans, unless of course they do and it makes them smile :)

What are your thoughts? How have you struggled with your outward appearance and how has Jesus helped you in this?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Matthew 6:25-30

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness-1 Timothy 2:8-10

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. 1 Peter 3:3-5

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