Ugly is More Than Skin Deep

by Tad Lindley

You’ve probably heard the story before. Adam and the woman (she wasn’t called Eve until later on, Genesis 3:20) were in the Garden of Eden. Life was wonderful. They did not know sin. They could leave their keys in the vehicles, they did not have to lock their doors at night. There had never been a murder. Nobody had ever sworn at another person. All that they knew was good.

The serpent approached them. He talked the woman into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam took the next bite. They already had the knowledge of good. Now they had the knowledge of evil.

Beating back the ugly

The ugliness of sin came over them. They attempted to cover up the ugliness. First Adam and the woman invented the needle and thread. Next they sewed fig leaves together until they were covered. Apparently it was enough to satisfy themselves. You see, they were under the misconception that ugly is only skin deep. Unfortunately for them, it was not enough to satisfy God.

The Lord sees not as the man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7). When the Lord looked at Adam and the woman, he saw right through the fig leaves. He saw their hearts. What he saw was ugly.

How ugly is the heart?

When God saw their hearts, he probably said something like this: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9). He confronted them with the ugliness of their hearts. Instead of accepting responsibility for their sin, they tried to place the blame on someone else. As a result of this God kicked them out of the Garden.

Covering up the ugly

It is interesting to note that Adam and the woman had tried to cover up their ugliness with leaves. God threw out their garments and made clothes for them from the skins of animals (Genesis 3:21). This is a pattern that people have followed from that day forward: they have tried to deal with their ugliness by covering it up on the outside. Since men look on the outside, they might be fooled, but God knows the heart.

Shoe polish and paint

Recently, when someone found out my age, they asked me if I put shoe polish in my hair to cover up white hairs. I don’t and I wouldn’t. Jesus said, Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black (Matthew 5:36). Furthermore, the Bible tells us that the white head is a crown of glory (Proverbs 16:31).

Yet you know that there are people who pluck their white hairs and others who would not dream of being seen in public without dying their hair. Somehow they feel that if the flaws and imperfections on the outside can be covered up, then people will see them as beautiful.

It is not much of a problem here in the AVCP region, but where I grew up there were many women who were practically addicted to make up. Some were so bound that they felt worthless if they had to be in public without it. Others work diligently to make themselves beautiful by wearing expensive clothes. Some use elaborate body piercing (beauty is in the eye of the beholder).

Overcoming ugliness starts in the heart

The New Testament cautions Christians not to use gold, pearls, expensive clothing, or elaborate hairdos to make themselves beautiful (I Peter 3:3, I Timothy 2:9). Yes, those things might for a time deceive people who are not really close to us, but not forever. According to the word of God ugliness is overcome from the outside in: let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is incorruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (I Peter 3:4).

In the Old Testament, God despised Adam and Eve’s attempts to cover up their sin. He killed animals and covered them with their skins. In the New Testament, God himself comes manifest in the flesh. He allows himself to be slain, and we have the opportunity to have him cover our ugliness.

Do you feel ugly?

If you have spent your life feeling ugly and trying to cover it in different ways, you can be free. Jesus knows right where you are. When we repent of our old life and are baptized in Jesus’ name, we feel the weight of ugliness slip away. Our own ugliness, shame, and mistakes are covered by the beauty of Jesus Christ. For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). If you feel ugly, slip into something more beautiful.

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.

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