Keeping Up Appearances
In our discovery of Psalm 1, we have so far learned about yielding fruit in season and not participating in the words or habits of wickedness. Today we look at verse 6 and consider the psalmist’s wisdom in light of our generation’s values. Psalm 1:6 reads,
“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction” (NIV).
What does it mean when the Lord watches over you?
For Jacob in Genesis 30-31, it meant God worked against the evil coming toward him. Jacob, though he had his flaws, worked diligently and honestly for Laban twenty years even when Laban cheated him out of livestock and wages. However, God blessed Jacob and turned events in his favor because Jacob trusted and obeyed God. Jacob said to Laban, “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands” (Genesis 31:42, NIV).
Similar circumstances found Joseph in Genesis 37-50; when presented with the opportunity to commit adultery, he fled the situation. Even though he was unjustly thrown into prison, God gave Joseph favor in all his interactions. By the end of Genesis, Joseph was in charge of all of Egypt. In Genesis 50:19-20 Joseph says to his brothers who had betrayed him, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (NIV). For these men, doing the right thing even when it meant hardship for the present was worth the reward of God’s pleasure.
Doing the right thing in the moment is seldom easy. Sometimes we don’t even know what the “right thing to do” is. An important note in Jacob and Joseph’s stories, though, is that they didn’t choose what made them look good. Jacob would definitely have benefited from cheating Laban out of some sheep. Joseph could have stayed in his position of power if he had sinned with his master’s wife. Others probably looked at Jacob and Joseph’s choices, tilted their heads, squinted their eyes, and said, “Well, they’re not the sharpest eggs in the attic.” But what mattered was not how rich or successful or popular the men appeared to be. God cared about their hearts.
How important is appearance to you? How often do you think about what other people think of you? A well-rooted trend in our generation is evaluating people based on their looks or charisma or popularity. Are there things you do to create a flawless image for yourself? Even if these things aren’t necessarily wrong, challenge yourself to give one up for a week. What would your life – free from worry about appearances – be like? What if others benefit from seeing your flaws and insecurities and feel free to share their own?
Isaiah points out that fear of others is a direct offense to God who watches over all.
“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth” (Isaiah 51:12-13, ESV).
Challenge yourself to spend less time worrying about what others think of you and more time in prayer asking God what He thinks of you.