Do clothes really make the man? Is cleanliness next to godliness? There are some people, even industries today that would have us believe so. But is there any truth in such thinking? Jesus certainly didn’t think so as seen in this scripture and here are four reasons why such thinking is wrong.
1. Beauty is only skin deep
Looking good does not make you good. In this section Jesus upbraided the Pharisees saying they were like those who cleanse the outside of the cup but inside were full of all kinds of filth. Extortion and wickedness he stated here, and elsewhere includes greed and rapacity. So looking good on the outside with fine clothes or great beauty will not change the person within. It does nothing to change who you are.
2. Prejudice and favouritism
People tend to show a bias towards those who dress to impress or who look good on the outside. But in many places Jesus and the apostles warned us against such prejudice. By this kind of wrong thinking we can overlook, ignore and do the wrong thing by those who do not meet these standards. In the letter of James we see such prejudice and partiality condemned as he shows here in James 2:1-6:
1 My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
2 For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
3 and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,”
4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor man.
Thus it is important to consider all people equally and not make distinctions on the basis of dress or wealth or any of the other things considered important in this world but not in the eyes of God.
3. Attitude and change come from within
You cannot change your attitude and thinking by changing the way you dress. You cannot change who you are by simply cleaning up the outside. True attitude change comes from within. If we are to be better people we must start with changing who we are, not how we look.
This is why in several places Jesus tells us it is not enough to just hear the words of God, we must do them as well. This was the message of the parable of the man who built on the rock and the man building on the sand. James likewise warns us saying in James 1:22-24:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror;
24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
4. How you look will not lead to salvation
The path to salvation is through faith, and faith is not about what is on the outside but what is inside of you. It is what you believe that will lead you to salvation. Salvation comes through belief in Jesus Christ and following his teachings. It is first about learning the truth, believing it and then applying it in your life.
Looking good may gain entry to places in this world, but it will not get you into the kingdom of heaven. God is not concerned about the condition of our clothes, he is interested in the condition of our heart for that is where the truth of who you are rests.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ provided by Kaan Tanriover)