We spend a lot of time on our looks—both men and women. We make time to schedule hair cuts and colorings, manis and pedis, and the bleaching of our teeth. We are, in many respects, too concerned with what our outsides look like.
It’s nothing new. I was going through some photos of one of my trips to Greece and rediscovered one from a display in a museum in Corinth. For the same reason that I’d originally taken it is what makes it relevant to this post.
Old Corinth, circa 585 BC, was famous as a trading center…and for its love of luxury items. This photo shows an ancient powder compact and tweezers, which gave me pause in considering how the more things have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same.
I don’t exclude myself in talking about this preoccupation with how we look (or how we try to look for others). Just yesterday I was wandering the aisles of my local Rite Aid looking for a new eyelash curler to give boost to my short, thin lashes (it’s always been a thing for me). I actually gave serious thought to three different ones before making my decision, yet now realize that the purchase and the time spent on it matters nothing. That time and that money could have been better used elsewhere. I can’t pluck, tweeze or curl my way to Christ, nor do I think he weighs his love for me on my appearance.
The truth, if we will accept it, is that the human race and our vanity compel us to go to extremes with our appearances, and passing centuries haven’t changed that. Whether it’s school, jobs, social status, club memberships or any other competitive angle, there is the element of looks and where they can get you. It comes to us naturally in our human weakness, in our judgment of self and others, which the Bible strongly cautions against, and which we lose ourselves to more often than not. We put more emphasis on how we look than what it’s worth, and I’m just as guilty as the woman in ancient Corinth with her compact and tweezers. Things don’t change much, no matter how much time passes.
But maybe that woman, like me, struggled against the vice of luxury during those early days of Christianity coming to the Gentiles, seeing it for what it really is: a barrier to the only kind of makeover that counts, the one that takes place inside of us as we spend more time making ourselves presentable to God and less time making ourselves pretty for the outside world.