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Substance Over Style

Have you watched any television lately? If so, you know that the commercials bombard us with the notion that our value in society, and level of happiness in life, comes from amount of stuff we accumulate. It is not just how much we can accumulate, we are also told by advertisers that certain brand names (their brand of course!) of products imply success and happiness. If you don’t like the way you look, no problem, there is probably a pill, cream or surgery that will “restore your youthful beauty and vigor.” And if you don’t have the money, no problem either, financing is available.

Our culture puts an excessively high value on style and not on substance. Outwardly many of us “look good” in the eyes of the world, but inside we do not feel so good. We have accumulated many things but when we put our heads on our pillows at night we still feel a sense of emptiness.

For those of you over the age of 40, remember Chuck Taylors? You remember them, those high-topped canvas athletic shoes made by Converse. For awhile, everyone wanted to own a pair, even if you never played a minute of sports. They were the shoe to own! But today, you have to look long and hard to even be able to find Chuck Taylors in any shoe store. Today, sneakers (are they even still called that?) are not about comfort (substance) but instead all about how they look with your outfit and what message they send to others (style).

God, on the other hand, chooses substance over style. While the world looks at the outside of people, He cares about what is inside: who we are becoming. A story in the Old Testament gives us this insight. When God was choosing the next king to replace Saul, He asked the prophet Samuel to assist in choosing one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king. God said that He would show Samuel which son to anoint. The story tells us that the oldest seven of Jesse’s sons paraded in front of Samuel; these were big strong young men, but God did not choose any of them. Finally, the youngest son, a little shepherd boy named David, came before Samuel and God said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” (1 Sam 16:12)

Now why would God choose the little kid over the big tall and muscular brothers? In 1 Samuel 16:7, God gives us the answer – “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” God looks at our character over all else.

What is on the inside matters more than what is on the outside. So we ask you this – Are you committed to the things that God values or to things that the world values? Just as with Chuck Taylors, styles change, but substance can last forever.

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina


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