Have you ever wondered: “Which is more important: how others see me, or how I see them?” Women in particular will often do whatever it takes to improve our appearance—we want to “look good to others.” But do we spend enough time considering the question: “How do I look at others?”
Too often, we may take the time to groom ourselves in the mirror, and when we are satisfied with what we see, we smile and walk away. James warns us not to ignore the Word of God, using the example of one who looks in a mirror then forgets what he sees (James 1:23–24). When we as Christian women use the “mirror” of introspection, do we act on God’s Word and on what we discover, or do we become forgetful of how we look at ourselves—and at others?
Do we sometimes think less than positive thoughts about people we see? What look is on our face when we meet someone with less money, or less success, or less training in the finer points of culture? If we are not careful, whatever distasteful thing we think we see in them may be reflected on our faces. We could learn a great deal if, at such a point, someone could take our picture or hold up a mirror—because we might be horrified at what we saw in ourselves!
That is how we “look” to others, regardless of how perfectly our hair is styled or how beautifully we are dressed (1 Peter 3:3–4). Truly, it has been said that a pretty woman with an ugly attitude is an ugly woman!
I, for one, have received the “look” that tells me that a woman is less than pleased with what she sees in me. I see a scowl on her face, and I start wondering what awful truth she sees about me—or what flaw, or false impression. Maybe she is jealous? I rarely find out the answer.
For years I would see homeless people take refuge from the weather by entering the library where I worked. Yes, sometimes there was a smell about them; sometimes they were not easy to look at. But, as a Christian woman, I had to make a positive impression on them, just as I would try to make on my own family members or the most refined and proper people in our midst—perhaps even more so because of their needs and circumstances.
Over the years, working in the library, it was very rewarding to see the gradual change in people when they came to feel appreciated and respected. Their anxiety lessened, their self-esteem grew, and they became more comfortable about themselves and their circumstances (see Job 34:19).
It is important, to me, how I “look” to other people; what I am thinking when I look at them, and what my face says about what I am thinking! I would feel ashamed of myself, if they felt belittled, because I gave them the uncharitable eye—the eye that tells them they are not welcome where I am, and that they have no right to expect me to burden myself with greeting them or being nice to them (see Proverbs 16:19; Matthew 23:12).
A day is coming when we will seek out those in obvious pain, who need us the most, because they may become the leaders in God’s Kingdom. Christ worked with the meek and humble in His time, and still does today. I am certain many of us were once looked down upon because of our lowly condition. We are in a position, right now, to encourage people (Luke 22:27). The full impact of our actions may not be apparent in this age, even to those we seek to help—but it will help us. And who knows? Maybe it will bring them one step closer to attaining spiritual perfection in the future because of our kindness to them in this day and age. Their favorable future may be helped along by how we “look” at them now.