“Make it or break it? He compliments your physique all the time.” Ummm, that’s a no-brainer, “make it!” This is a game my friends and I would play back in the day, usually on a bus ride to camp to help us pass the time. The object of the game is to have your ideal partner in mind, they are perfect in every way but they have just one odd characteristic about them, and so you have to decide whether or not you’d still date them. One person comes up with that quirky characteristic and then presents it to the other and asks, “make it or break it?” I know I know, it’s silly, but we were a bunch of teenage girls trying to spice up our lives. Usually we’d come up with some wild stuff, like “he bathes in Jello every day.” Talk about a waste of money and Jello! Somebody needs to get that boy a bar of soap. As you can tell, I would’ve responded “break it.” But let’s use the scenario I mentioned in the beginning, “he’s always complimenting your appearance, make it or break it?” Wait, is that even a quirk? Maybe, maybe not. Your response may change by the end of this article.
Compliments are a good thing, right? They’re a way to show your appreciation for someone. True, but this could also be done in the wrong way. I dated someone who primarily complimented my body. Now you might be thinking, “I don’t see a problem there, he enjoys how you look and wants to express that to you.” I know a lot of women would appreciate that, and honestly I did too, until it affected my self image. When affirmations are focused on one particular area, we tend to draw our value from it. I wasn’t sure if he thought that I was intelligent, godly, disciplined, compassionate, loyal, humble, or kind, I just knew he thought I looked good. So I began to focus my attention on my looks, which contributed to my vanity. Yuck.
When people are attracted to your appearance more than your character, sirens should be going off in your head. Either your priorities are off or theirs are.
How can we correct this? Humility. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2 NIV). This is the description that the prophet Isaiah gave of Jesus. Many would expect the Messiah to come to earth as a handsome king. Instead, Jesus left His glory to be born into the same lineage as a prostitute, adulterer, and murderer (read Matthew 1). He came as an infant, birthed next to a stinky barn of animals, with outcasts as parents. The most unsuspecting Messiah. Why? Because His business was about sharing the Kingdom of God and that alone. He did not want to distract anyone from His message of salvation. Ultimate humility.
Even Samuel was confused by the successor of Saul that God had chosen. The oldest son of Jesse, Eliab appeared to be “the Lord’s anointed.” But God replied to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). And so the youngest brother who was tending to sheep when Samuel arrived, not even considered presentable by his own father, became king. David would go on to write many Psalms (which Jesus often referenced) and his throne would be given to Jesus to reign over. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty big deal.
Okay, it couldn’t be any more clear. God said He looks at the heart. So should we.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are concerned about edifying the church, then our compliments should focus on the things of the heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV). What does God desire from His children? Holiness. “Therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45 NIV). If you treasure your Heavenly Father and His commands, then your heart will be aligned with such things.
I recognize this is easier said than done. It requires some rewiring of our thought processes and some introspection. A question you might want to ask yourself, “If I am to delight in the Lord, then why do I find myself delighting in the things of this world?” Perhaps you need to remind yourself of the things God has done for you, where you’ve seen His hand directing your life, counseling you, and protecting you. I keep a monument journal. I got the idea from a study of the book of Joshua. The Israelites made a monument to commemorate what God had done at the Jordan River, pulling back the flood-level waters so that they could cross into the promised land unharmed. I write down my Jordan River moments, whether big or small, so I don’t forget about God’s mighty work in my life. When we delight in God, we delight in seeing His characteristics in others.
Compliments that focus on godly character not only cause us to feel loved, they propel the believer into their purpose.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV). The world is supposed to see God through His children. The fruits of the Spirit should be on display in our lives. How much more would I want to persevere in patience, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control if someone recognizes these fruits in me and points them out. In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, He says, “The eye is the lamp of the body” (Matthew 6:22 NIV). What people see either fills their body with light or with darkness. If we care more about our outward appearance than our heart, we can distract people from experiencing the one, true God through us. I certainly do not want to be a stumbling block for others. If God dwells in me, then that should be apparent.
Am I more concerned about attracting someone to me or to God in me? Which of these has eternal impact? I think we know the answer to that question. So, I hereby retract my previous response. If a man is only concerned about complimenting my body, ummm, that’s a no-brainer, “break it!” Now your turn, make it or break it?