“What Do I Look Like?”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. One of the great challenges we all face is to not look at others with a judgmental spirit. It's easy to say what is good or bad about someone else, but when was the last time we took a close look at our own life? Oh, I'm not talking about what we look like on the outside, but on the inside. I wonder sometimes what people see when they look at me. Do they see someone trying to follow Jesus or do they see someone who does not care about a relationship with Him, or even with them. Those are questions we might all ask ourselves, from time to time. In our lesson today, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will spend a few minutes thinking about what we look like, first of all to God and then to the people He puts into our life. I hope it will give us something to carefully consider. I encourage you now to open your Bible to the Letter of 2nd Corinthians, which is found in the New Testament part of the Bible, as we study together.
I want to begin our lesson today on “Key to the Kingdom.” with a rather odd question. And that question very simply is; have you ever asked yourself what do I look like? Well, the answer is obvious for those of us who have the opportunity to see. We know what we look like. In fact, every day, and perhaps even several times a day, we look into a mirror something like this and we see what we look like. We see whether or not our hair is in place. We see whether or not our clothes are pressed, and if we are presentable as we go out into the world. But as we look into a mirror like that, and see what we look like, I wonder if we need to ask our self a couple of more questions. Perhaps questions that are even more important. And the 1st one is; what do I look like to God? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Yes, God knows what we look like on the outside because He made us as we are, but what do we look like to God on the inside? We know from Scripture, from 1st Samuel 16, that God looks upon the heart. He does not see us as man sees us, because man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. And when He looks at you and me, He sees our attitudes, our thoughts, and our intentions. He notices the motivations behind the words we speak and the actions we do. But here is a 2nd question I would encourage us to consider when we look at our self in the mirror, and that is; what do others see? What do they see when they look at me? Whether it is those with whom we associate every day, or even strangers we meet on a periodic basis, what do they see? Oh, it seems we spend lots of time focusing on the clothes we wear, or what we drive, or where we live, and we think about all of the money we spend on those things, money perhaps we don't even have, to impress people we don't even know. But, does any of that really matter? Well, here's what I'm talking about. Let me take this a step further. What do my neighbors think of me? How do my coworkers feel about me? What might my fellow church members say to other people about me, and, what does my family think about me? When I think about questions like that, it causes me to do some self-evaluation. It causes me to think very carefully about who I am and how I present myself to other people. In 1st Corinthians 4 the apostle Paul was not too concerned about the opinions of other people; because he knew it that it was really the Lord before whom he stood, and he would have to give an account to Jesus Christ of the way he lived. And so, the opinions of other people did not matter to him all that much. And yet, we know that how he came across to other people was still important. And we think about that, even in our lives today. How do I come across to other people? Not that we base our life on the opinions of others, but how do we present our self to others? You know, sometimes I don't look all that good. Sometimes I let my flaws, and my discrepancies, and the errors of my life, be evident to other people. Often times others are able to pick up on those things quicker than I am. And I think about, how do I look? And I ask myself questions like; when my fellow church members do look at me do they see one who is filled with pride and arrogance? When strangers look at me, do they see me as one who is disrespectful, or uncaring, or perhaps mean? When my neighbors look at me, do they see one who is selfish and difficult to get along with? Then, when my family members look at me, do they see someone who is unloving and perhaps even judgmental of them, or others? Oh, hopefully that is not the case. But if it is, then it should bother me because those things are not good, and it is time for me to make some changes, or adjustments, in the way I live and the way I come across to other people. On the other hand, when people look at me do they see someone who has had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ? Do they see someone who loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind, and spirit, and then loves other people, also? Do people see me as being unselfish, kind, and respectful? Do they see me as having a humble spirit and living under the judgment of God, instead of living in judgment of other people? Yes, those things, on a regular basis, cross my mind as I seek to answer the question, how do I look to other people? The apostle Paul had some thoughts on what his life should look like. He remembered long ago how he opposed the will of God. He was one who tried to do everything he could to stand in the way of God's kingdom being advanced on this Earth. He spent time persecuting Christians, witnessing their death and being responsible for it. He did everything he could to oppose what God was trying to do, and he thought he was doing God a favor. He thought he was doing the right thing when he did all of this, but one day God appeared to him on that road to Damascus, and we remember well that story; how God closed Saul's mind, as he was known then, or at least He closed his eyes, and He allowed Saul to see God from a different perspective. And on that occasion, Saul had to do some deep soul-searching. He was converted to the Lord and, from that moment on, he became perhaps the greatest evangelists and witness for the Lord this world has ever known, except for Jesus Christ Himself. Yes, Saul became the apostle Paul, and he became a great evangelist and representative of the Lord. Throughout his ministry, he made several trips. He traveled to several places, established a number of churches. One of which was in the city of Corinth. On one occasion, he made some plans to visit those Christians there in Corinth, however some other things came up and he had to change those plans. He had to make some adjustments and he communicated that with those people. They did not receive that news very well. Some accuse the apostle Paul of not being very credible. They said, “You are not worthy to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and your message is something that we can not believe. In fact, your physical appearance is not all that great. You are not a very good public speaker and so we do not give you much credibility.” Well, Paul was somewhat concerned about that and he addressed those things in a passage here in 2nd Corinthians chapter 5. I want us to read that passage, beginning with verse 11. Paul writes – Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. – The apostle Paul was overcome with humility when he thought about the changes God brought into his life; when he thought about the difference Jesus Christ now made in who he was, and he came to these people, here in the city of Corinth, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. That was his primary focus. Time and time again he said, “I came to you not knowing anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” That was important to the apostle Paul. He wanted to represent the Lord very well. I think also about what the apostle Paul wrote, over in Philippians 3. He wrote; I consider everything a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus Christ, my Lord. When I think about statements like that, and what he wrote in 2nd Corinthians, Paul's life was not about Paul, but Paul's life was about Jesus. He wanted to represent Him wherever he went and in what ever he did. That was his goal and that was his ambition. And, as we just read here in the 5th chapter, Paul was overcome with, controlled by, and even in submission to the love of God. Yes, Paul knew of God's great love for him and then that love compelled Paul to not only love God in return but also to love the people whom God put into his life. And so, his response was to love God. His response was to love people. And so, in a sense it really did matter to Paul what he looked like to other people. He wanted to represent Jesus Christ and to show them a heart that was filled with love. Let's continue reading on here in the 5th chapter and see that even clearer, as we notice verses 16 and following. – So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, and the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – Yes, God changed Paul's life and Paul knew it. His attitudes were different. His actions were different because now he was on God's side, and a part of God's family. And as Paul writes here, he has now become God's ambassador. He represents the One who saved him. Wherever he goes, he goes not by his authority but by the authority of God. As we think about all of those things, we have to ask ourselves the question: Is there anything there in Paul's life that looks like what's going on in our life? Do our attitudes and our actions follow the example of Paul, this great servant of God? In other words, what do I look like to God and what do I look like to other people? Well, if I'm a changed person on the inside then the outside of my life will represent those changes. I will look like someone whom God can use to help make a difference in this world. I will look like a humble servant who is compelled, by God's great love, to be an ambassador for Him, and to represent Him wherever I go and in what ever I do. Isn't that the goal of every person who is changed from the inside out? Take a look at this short video clip. Perhaps it illustrates the point we are making in our lesson today.
This house I'm standing in front of is for sale. As a person drives up to look at this house, wondering whether or not they want to buy it, the first thing they see is the outside. They recognize the porch, and the beautiful work that is done, a beautiful house. But yet, this house doesn’t tell very much about what is on the inside. We don't know for sure how many rooms are on the inside. We don't know, for sure, if there is carpet on the floor, or furnishings in the bedroom. The only thing we can see from outside is the outer portion of this beautiful home. Often times, people look at our lives and the only thing they see is what they get, the outside. And they may think we are good people, that we have a great relationship with the Lord and are walking with Him, because of the things they see us do, like go to church, or give, or help people, or live a clean life, and they have no idea what is going on in the inside of our life. But yet, God knows. He sees the condition of our heart, and that is more important to Him than anything else. In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke to a bunch of religious people who thought they had things right because they looked good on the outside. In fact, they did, but Jesus said, “You are really full of dead men's bones. You may even wash the outside of a cup but it really doesn't matter to you what goes on the inside of that cup.” The point is well taken, we need to be very careful about what we put on the inside of our life because that is what concerns God more than anything else. Oh, we may look good to other people. We may appear to have a good life on the outside, but what about on the inside? Is our heart right with God? Are we putting those things into our life that will make us grow in our relationship with the Lord, and that will make us represent Him well in this world? I encourage you today to not be so concerned about the outside of your life, but be concerned about the condition of your heart, because that is really what matters to God.
Yes, what is on the inside of my life is very important. It dictates what other people see on the outside and it allows them to see whether or not my conversion to Jesus Christ really makes a difference in the way I live. Oh, when I reflect upon my own life, I think about how similar it is to the apostle Paul. At one time, I was outside of the family of God. At one time, I was opposed to His good will for me. But thanks be to God, I responded to the wonderful love of His Son, Jesus Christ, who loved me enough to die for me, and because of that, I receive His salvation. It's not because of anything I have done. It's not because of somebody important that I may be in this world, because that's not the case at all. Rather, my salvation comes from my faith in a Jewish rabbi by the name of Jesus, who lived almost 2000 years ago. For He did something for me that no one else has ever done, and no one else has ever offered to do. That was, He went to the cross to die on my behalf. I think about the persecution and the pain Jesus experienced as He gave His life upon that cross, and He died because He loved me. Because of what He did, I am now saved. I am reconciled back to God. And because of that, I now seek to live that changed life. And, as we just read, God's love for me now compels me to not only love Him in return but also to love other people. His love compels me, and it convicts me, to live differently than I used to live; understanding the changes He has made in my life, from the inside out. And so, my life is not about me. It's about the Lord. I don't live in judgment of other people. I don't live mean, and selfish, and in an uncaring way toward other people. Rather, my life is about bringing glory to God because of who He is, because of what He has done in my life through Jesus Christ, and all of the wonderful blessings He has given to me, which are found in His one and only Son. Yes, I am overwhelmed by the fact that God gave me the opportunity to be reconciled and to be brought back to Him, and I want other people to experience that same salvation, and that same forgiveness, and that same promise of eternal life with Him. I want to live in a way so that other people will immediately look at me and say, “That person is changed from the inside out. I can see Jesus living in him.” That is what Jesus is in the business of doing. He is in the business of bringing change into our life. He gives us a 2nd opportunity, a 3rd chance, a 4th opportunity to make things right and to be a part of His family. And once we receive that love then that love compels me to live that changed life and to represent Him, and when other people see me they say, “There's a person in whom Jesus Christ has made a difference, and I want to be like him.” Now let me be very quick to say this; I don't always do that. I do not always represent the God who loves me, and Jesus Christ who saves me. I do not always love the people He puts into my life, like I should love them. I do not always let God's glory shine through me. I do not always live a nonjudgmental life. I do not always live a life that is unselfish and a life that is kind and respectful of other people. I'm guilty, as I said a moment ago, and other people can quickly see those faults and those discrepancies in me. I don't always represent Jesus Christ, like I want to represent Him. And maybe you can relate to that as well. Maybe you have that same struggle and problem. Let me say this, those things never change the fact that I am a changed person from the inside out because of what God, through Jesus Christ, has done for me. So therefore, I do what I can, where I am, by the grace of God. I represent Him in this world and I make a conscious decision every day to live that changed life. I suppose if we had a goal as Christians, by which we want to live, it would be something like this; to live in such a way that those who know you, but do not know God, will come to know God because they know you. Oh, those words are not original with me. I have seen them on plaques and on posters before, and perhaps you have as well. But isn't that the goal for those of us who've been changed from the inside out; to let other people see that change so that they may come to know God because they know us and they know that we are compelled by the love of God to demonstrate that love to this world? We began our lesson a few minutes ago by looking at a mirror. We suggested that every time we look at this mirror we look at our self and we see if we are presentable to the world. I would encourage us to continue to do that, and as we do so, we ask our self 2 questions. The 1st one is, when I look at that mirror am I presentable to God? What does He see when He looks at me? Does He see one who is changed from the inside out? Does He see one who has received that love that He has given, through His Son, Jesus Christ? And then, the 2nd question we ask when we look at our self in the mirror is, what do I look like to other people? Can they see Jesus Christ living in me? Can they see that He has made a difference in the way I live and act among them, and among the people of this world? And the answer that we give to those questions (what do I look like to God, and what do I look like to other people) will then dictate the way we live in this world, when we put down that mirror and we walk out into the world. The question, what do I look like, is something we all need to consider as we seek to live for Jesus Christ, who has made a difference in our life from the inside out.
Thank you for joining us for today’s broadcast. I trust it was beneficial and allowed you the opportunity to think about what you look like to God, and to others. Our website has been recently updated and provides lots of helpful Bible study tools, lessons, and short messages. There is no charge for anything we offer. It is for your use, and hopefully it will be a blessing as you seek to walk with the Lord. We would also love to hear from you by way of an e-mail. Let us know where you live and on what channel you saw this program. Again, thank you for being with us today. May God richly bless you in your desire to walk closer to Him. And, why not join us next time, as we study the Bible, on “Key to the Kingdom.”