Do you remember this from being a kid? Or maybe you’ve watched your own children do this. An expensive gift comes in a great big box. Someone put a lot of thought into that gift and thought it would really be enjoyed, but instead, the empty box is the thrill of the day. The item of value is ignored, and they play with the box.
As we grow up, the box wanes in appeal as a plaything, but we don’t lose our fascination with packaging quite so easily. We still tend to judge the quality of the item inside by how the package looks on the outside. We shun damaged cans and boxes of perfectly good food at the supermarket. Manufacturers from food to high-end electronics spend a lot of resources making sure the outside catches the eye. They know that if the outside doesn’t look good, we’ll never sample what’s on the inside.
This may not always be bad when applied to things, but it’s terrible when applied to people. We do apply it to people. “Good-looking” people get treated better, are hired more easily, and are more likely to be believed. All of this based merely on the packaging. We worship the body and devastate the soul. We’re so obsessed with the packaging that even those among us who would be considered beautiful often don’t believe it about themselves. It’s a fickle standard in any case, varying across time and culture according to whim.
If “normal” people battle this, what about those of us who are not? Like most teenagers, I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be “normal.” My dad used to ask me something like this, “Why would you want to be normal? Who told you that normal was good?” If we examine what’s going on in our world today, we find that normal really isn’t so good. It’s not a standard any of us should be striving for.
Whether or not you’re facing any kind of disability or disfigurement, chances are there’s something about your package that you don’t like. Maybe it came that way, or maybe it was damaged in shipping. The reasons are as varied as the packages, but one thing remains true for all. The real value is inside the package. Remember that not only as you consider yourself, but especially as you consider others. Is a diamond worth less because you received it in a crumpled paper sack instead of a fancy box? We might wonder about the giver’s choice of packaging, but it would not change the value of the gift.
So if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, are you looking past the packaging? What is inside? If you are looking at someone else, on what are you basing your assessment of them? Why do you accept the word of that news anchor or politician on the screen? Is it because they have established credibility, or does it have more to do with how they present themselves? In your day-to-day interactions with other people, do you look beyond first impressions? It’s true that there is only so much time available to us. Sometimes we have to make judgments based on the information at hand, but I urge you to make the time as much as possible when dealing with people. Don’t be fooled by the package. You could spare yourself bitter disappointment or discover something of great value.
We need to learn to see ourselves and others as God sees us. This is both wonderful and frightening. It is wonderful because we can know that God loves us. He has done everything He can to bring us to Himself. We are of such value to Him that He gave Himself for us. We should always keep this in mind as we interact with each other.
It is frightening because of the corruption that is at the core of all of us. It has been there since Adam let it in. Without God’s redemptive power through the blood of Jesus, we are all without hope. We all have good qualities that come from being created by God. That is why I wrote this. I want to encourage you to find those qualities within yourself and others. But none of us is truly good. Within every package is the deadly contamination of sin.
That is why it is such good news that the one who put us together in the first place provided a way for us to get cleaned up. If we’ll give over our package and its contents to Him, He will perfect it, making it all that He intended it to be. A word of warning though. He starts on the inside first. To get to the inside, he has to open the outside, and that’s painful at times. We may not get the pretty rapping until He takes us to be with Him.
I wish that we would all take more time to look beyond the surface. If we spent more time with the gift instead of the box, we would all live in a better place. Let’s start today!