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While fishing by the shore of Showlow Lake in the White Mountains of Arizona, I observed what is known as the "cow killer" - a solitary red velvety ant or wasp-like creature. Although the red velvet appearance of the wasp-like insect made it quite attractive and enjoyable to watch as it made a track across the rocks along the shoreline, I found out it has the sting capable of bringing down a full-grown cow! It destroys bee colonies by laying eggs in their hives and then the young kill all the bees in the hive. While it looked beautiful on the outside, the awful venom in that single sting was something that none would soon forget.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (I Peter 3:3-4 NLT)

Sometimes we evaluate others by what we see on the outside. They may look like they have their life all put together and kind of like everything is well under control, but I wonder how many times we admire the "mask" of what they display while being totally unaware of the venomous condition of the heart under that mask. The outward beauty isn't always an accurate reflection of what is much deeper. Maybe this is why we get the expression of beauty being only skin deep!

While Christ didn't possess some magical power to read someone's mind, he could accurately identify what was at the core of someone's soul. He didn't rely upon the image portrayed, but examined the actions that revealed the heart. The superior attitude of the religious leaders, for example, was something he called out as masking a problem at the heart level known as pride. They masked their pride with all manner of religious piety, but it was still front and center for anyone with eyes to see.

I think we often are deceived by the image portrayed and then wonder why we got burned in a relationship. We fail to look beyond the beauty on the surface and then find out we really couldn't trust the real person under that mask of beauty. In order to see beyond the surface we need to learn to uncover the heart within and I think we don't do this without Christ's help. He helps us see the true person below the surface by revealing little bits of their inner character. In time, we begin to see the traits we can appreciate as true beauty and rely less upon the beauty simply displayed on the surface!  Just sayin!


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