2 Corinthians 10:9 I do not want to seem as though I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such people understand that what we say by letter when absent, we will also do when present.
There is an old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” This is certainly also true with people. Looks can be deceiving. This was apparently true of the Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter to the church in Corinth.
While it’s exactly clear in the biblical record, tradition holds that Paul’s physical body was severely diminished over time. That’s understandable given all that he went through during his ministry – beaten, imprisoned, whipped, shipwrecked, left for dead. All for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It took a toll on him such that he was generally weak and perhaps even disfigured late in life.
Tradition also holds that he was not an eloquent speaker. Some scholars believe Paul had a speech impediment of some kind. Whatever the specifics may be, it’s clear Paul was not an impressive physical presence. His bold letters did not square with his “weak” appearance. What was powerful about Paul was not his physical presence, but the spirit of the living God that worked through him.
A mark of spiritual maturity is learning to see things as God sees things.
I think it’s fair to say that many of us spend far too much time concerned with our physical appearance and not nearly enough time developing our inner spiritual life. In this way we may be captive to our culture, which puts a very high value on one’s looks.
God does not.
In the old testament, the prophet Samuel was asked to seek out the man God had chosen to be king. He was led by God to visit a man named Jesse who had many sons. As Samuel stood before Jesse’s oldest son, who was also tall and handsome, he thought he had found God’s chosen one.
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
First of all, let me commend you on reading this blog. The fact that you’ve taken a few minutes to read scripture, and reflect upon it with me, says that you are willing to develop your inner world, not just your outer world.
In doing this, and hopefully other things, you are investing in that which is eternal.
Heavenly Father, as we grow in faith, we want to see things as you see them. Your word tells us clearly that you do not judget things as we do. You care much more about our “heart” than our physical appearance. Give us grace to live accordingly, putting things in the same priority as you. For we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.