Keeping Up Appearances

Have you ever noticed that humans, as a group, tend to be extremely superficial and shallow? We expend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy making sure that we look a certain way – wear particular brands of clothes and shoes, dye our hair, even have surgery. We go to great lengths to change our outsides … but do almost nothing to change what really matters.

Image © Rolf Jansson from

Even back in Jesus’ day, folks gave more attention to how they looked. This is what Jesus had to say to some people who worried too much about appearances:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:25-28

In many parts of the world, packaged foods are required to carry a list of ingredients used in the making of that particular food. The ingredients are listed in descending order – the ingredient that’s listed first is more than any of the other ingredients in that particular product.

Say for example that you’re shopping for orange juice. All of the packages look inviting – pictures of bright, juicy oranges and tall glasses of orange juice with just the right amount of condensation on them. The packaging people have done their research, but if you look carefully at the ingredient lists on the package, you’ll find a very different story.

One package has this list: “water, high fructose corn syrup and 2% or less of each of the following: concentrated juices (orange, tangerine, apple, lime, grapefruit), citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), Thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), natural flavors, modified cornstarch, canola oil, sodium citrate, cellulose gum, xantham gum, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium benzoate to protect flavor, yellow #5, yellow #6.”

Um, where’s the orange juice? If you look closely it’s listed third: “2% or less … concentrated juices (orange…)”.

Pick up another juice container and check its ingredients list: “100% pure squeezed pasteurized orange juice.”

Wow! If you just looked at the pictures on the packaging, you wouldn’t be able to tell that one of the bottles of juice is going to be much healthier than the other. One is going to be much more expensive as well, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

Anyway, one of those containers is actual orange juice and the other is a chemical cocktail made to look and taste like orange juice.

If I came with the ingredients of my heart and mind listed on a label, what would you learn about me by reading it? What would be the first ingredient listed? Would I be able to call myself Jesus-flavored or Jesus-filled? Would my packaging match my ingredients? Or would I be like the Pharisees, “whitewashed tombs … full of dead men’s bones?”

The next question is, how do I become Jesus-filled?

“As we behold Jesus in His Word, we are changed. New thoughts replace old ones. By beholding Him, we become more like Him. ‘It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence. Man will never rise higher than his standard of purity or goodness or truth. If self is his loftiest ideal, he will never attain to anything more exalted. Rather, he will constantly sink lower and lower. The grace of God alone has power to exalt man. Left to himself, his course must inevitably be downward.’” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 555)

“By beholding we become changed.” Doesn’t that sound simple? Everything we put in our brains, pushes us in on direction or the other – either to a closer relationship with Jesus or leads us farther away from Jesus.

Not too long ago I heard a Native American story called “The Wolves Within.”
In the story, a little boy comes to his grandfather because he is angry at a friend. The grandfather admits that he, too has struggled with feelings like hate and anger. He tells his grandson that those emotions only hurt the person who experiences them. Holding on to those emotions is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.

The grandfather continues,

“It is as if there are two wolves inside of me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when none is intended.

“But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into fits of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate consume him. And he is helpless because anger doesn’t change anything.

“It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me because both of them are trying to dominate my spirit.”

The boy studies his grandfather for a few seconds and then asks, “Which wolf will win?”

With a smile, the grandfather says, “The one I feed.”

Many of us grew up singing the song, “Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes.” It reminds us to guard the information that enters our mind no matter which pathway it follows.

“Oh, be careful little eyes what you see …
Oh, be careful little ears what you hear …
Oh, be careful little hands what you do …
Oh, be careful little feet where you go …
Oh, be careful little heart whom you trust …
Oh, be careful little mind what you think …”

Paul gives us some advice on how to feed the good wolf. In Philippians 4:6-9, he says,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

And in Romans 12:1-2,

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”



Keeping Up Appearances — 14 Comments

  1. This is another example of allowing the “Word” to become flesh. This moves us from profession to demonstration. This is the power available to all believers to daily put on Christ. This is also the power in and through Jesus Christ, is the most effective tool the Holy Spirit need in evangelism – believers living like Jesus. This will bring us in conformity with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit to complete the good work He has began in us. (John 1:14; John 6:51-56 & Philippians 1:6)

  2. We read in the Gospels that the disciples doubted that Christ has indeed risen from the dead. The first messengers they received were women (Mary Magdalene and such). Of course they didn’t even let her finish telling the good news when they interrupted her with their unbelief. The second messengers Christ sent them was the two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35.) They didn't believe them either. Even Peter couldn’t entertain the idea Christ is risen and alive. Finally, in frustration, Christ himself appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of their hearts (Mark 16:14.) The question must be asked: how can these disciples lose faith after eye-witnessing who Christ is and what He did? They have seen Him heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, cast out demons and even raise the dead. What happened to their faith?

    They were that close to Christ and still lost their faith and gave in to doubt. It's a solemn warning for you and me. We must watch and pray constantly. Going to church once-a-week on a Sabbath is not going to suffice. Yesterday’s revival and reformation will not sustain us today. We need daily revival and reformation for a daily survival. This is a matter of life and death. We’re working against our Nature, the enemy and this World. That’s a three-dimensional frictional force we’re dealing with at the same time. Take nothing for granted—most importantly your salvation. Pray, Pray, Pray! Read the Word daily (at least a chapter) and divorce yourself from the World, especially from its so-called “entertainments” that feeds the “bad wolf” with 2 and 3 hour-long movies (even sermons don’t last that long.) Protect your mind (it’s the Holy of Holies where Holy Spirit resides.) I don’t know about you but now I understand why the apostle Paul said protect (work out) your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12.)

  3. [Moderator note: please use first and last names when commenting on this site. Thanks!]

    Ms. Lopez. I loved this article. Jesus is lifted up. It is so great!! I always enjoy your articles the best! That's not to say that I don't enjoy the others but, praise the Lord for the talent He has given you. I am going to share this one with those around me today. I needed it too. So u were the answer to my prayer this morning. God bless ya!

  4. From Steps to Christ (page 81:)

    “If you would become acquainted with the Saviour, study the Holy Scriptures. Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water, quenching your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven. Jesus declares, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." And He explains Himself by saying, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:53, 63. Our bodies are built up from what we eat and drink; and as in the natural economy, so in the spiritual economy: it is what we meditate upon that will give tone and strength to our spiritual nature.”

  5. My wife and I uses to watch a T.V. show call Keeping up appearance it is very funny. We laugh at the lady trying to impress others, those with money and power and prestige. But her family is a mess.It's best to be yourself. Some people will like you and others wont. But the good news is Jesus Loves us and we don't have to put on (airs) Jesus Loves us Just as we are. What does the Lord require, to do good,show kindness,Love one another.

  6. Reminds me of the fig tree Christ cursed. Looked good from far but a disappointment on closer inspection. As Christians we must shine for JESUS and be consistent in our walk as well. Thanks for the inspiration, GOD bless.

  7. ... but wasn't it so even in the days of prophet Samuel, when the people were getting ready to anoint Eliab. They looked at the outward appearance of Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”(1 Sam 16:6)

    The LORD however interjected and said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

    Isn't true that man always starts and looks on the outside but God starts from the inside-out?

  8. Thanks Lillianne for the insightful post.
    When I was young, and even now, my mother was/is more concerned about appearances than anything. It has had an influence on others that isn't always positive. I think it is important to look nice, but caring and loving others is far more important.
    Some people need attention so badly that they will make themselves to look very good and talk a lot. When you get to know that person, you can see there isn't real substance.

    • I agree with what you said Jane. I know a bunch off people that is obvious how fake they are and how empty inside when you are around them. They always look at themselves to look impressive and to be noticed but if you happen not to agree with them you become their enemy. I believe they are called hypocrites by Jesus. God forbade that we become so blinded of our spiritual need to be in the situation of the Laodicean and not see clearly our empty ness. God bless!

  9. Jane, we need to go back to Monday's lesson and apply our knowledge of filtering to judgementalism. Inge had a good thought. When we think of filter, all we need to know is: Spreeding the Good News is the best filter.

  10. What a wonderful lesson to read on this beautiful Sabbath morning. I cannot wait to share this with some people who I know will appreciate this. Beauty will fade (outside), but character remains forever (inside). Thank you for a simple reminder in things that are so very important. I am a better person today, just because I am reminded of something that I need to take a closer look at in my life.

  11. The main issue with "Keeping up appearances" is that it is somebody else's problem. I would never do a thing like that. Don't we love lying to ourselves!

  12. Sister Lopez,

    Thanks for expressing these thoughts. This message is what I needed to read today. I've shared your post and pray others will be touched by your words as I have been.



Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *