15. Inner Beauty
1 Sam 16:7, 1 Pet 3:3,4
Props: Picture of wife, X-ray; data-projection slides of above verses, several downloaded web pictures, and a photo of the children.
Hello boys and girls! Can anyone tell me what a ‘beauty contest’ is? Yes, it is a sort of competition where girls or boys line up, and judges pick ‘the most beautiful’. Well, we are not going to have a beauty contest this morning, beautiful though you all are, because we already have a winner! [Produce photo of wife!] Do you know who this is? (Mrs S!) (I’ve just earned a Brownie point!) I do think ladies spend much more time trying to be beautiful than men. If you go into David Jones’ store in the city, the whole ground floor is taken up with counters of beauty aids. There is skin lotion, face cream, rouge, lipstick, eyebrow pencil, hair colour, eye liner, mascara, perfume, and dozens of other jars and bottles containing goodness knows what! You never saw such a lot of gunk! And it is mostly a great waste of time and money. No-one notices how beautiful you are, because everyone is worried about how beautiful they are! But let’s face it, we are all guilty. Hands up all those who have stood before a mirror, plucking a whisker or squeezing a pimple, or worrying about some tiny blemish – be honest now!
I was reading in the Bible [put up 1 Sam 16:7 verse and read]. ‘God doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.’
So God is more interested in what’s inside. Actually, I have here a picture of Mrs S’s inside [pull out X-ray]. It’s pretty awful isn’t it? All black and grotty. I hope my inside doesn’t look like this! (I think I’ve just lost that Brownie point!) ... Actually, I’ve made a mistake ... this is my X-ray! Never mind, I don't think the verse refers to this.
The verse is talking about what we are really like, the real person inside. Let’s explore this a little. Who is this [below left]?
Yes, Homer Simpson. Do you think he is a handsome fellow? No? You might think so if you had blue hair! But what is Homer like on the inside [next picture}? Is he good, like an angel? Or a little devil? Or perhaps both? Now who is this next person? She is Mother Teresa who used to live in India. She cared for people who were poor and sick and dying, people that no-one else cared about. Now, I don’t think she would have won a beauty contest, at least not in her later years. But people thought she was beautiful, because of the things she did. Now let’s look at our last picture. Who are these beautiful people?! [Show photo of some of the children.] Now suppose we were having a beauty contest, but with three angels as the judges (looking at the inside).
The first angel might say: I choose this little girl, because she gets out of bed in the morning with a smile on her face, cheerful and never grumbling.
The second angel might say: No, I choose this little boy because he is so friendly, always concerned about his friends, and happy to share his toys.
And the third angel might say: I choose this little girl because she is so ready to help her Mummy around the house, not even waiting to be asked.
Now boys and girls, have you been chosen yet? This is getting a bit hard, isn't it?! Perhaps we had better pray!
Prayer: Father God, I thank you for these beautiful children. I pray that you will help them, and us grown-ups too, to be beautiful on the inside: happy, kind, generous, loving – just like Jesus wants us to be. Amen.
[As children return to seats, show last prepared slide: You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful ... instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. 1 Pet 3:3, 4 (GNB).