Spirit & Truth # 232
By Rev. Greg Smith
I was blessed (and cursed) with a baby face. When I was younger, I hated it. Older folks told me that one day I’d be glad for it but I couldn’t understand how that could ever be true. When I was twenty, and a youth pastor, people kept confusing me for one of the youth. As a twenty year old father, I smiled politely when people made remarks about babies having babies. Honestly, I didn’t feel like being polite at all.
As a seminary student serving my first church, I decided to grow my first beard during our week of revival services. Every night I would lead worship with just a little more stubble on my face. Finally one evening, Deacon Knowles was taking up the offering, and took the opportunity to demonstrate his opinion of my beard. The last thing to go into the collection plate came from the deacon’s own pocket, prominently donated so all could see. It was a razor.
Every now and then, I get frustrated with my facial hair and ask my wife, “What do you think about me shaving it off altogether?”
Now, Beth has been imbued by her Creator with wisdom beyond measure, so she says, “If you do, you’ll regret it.”
So what do I do? I ponder her wisdom, then I promptly disregard it. I shave off my beard, take a look in the mirror, and say, “Why did you let me do that?” Within a week or two, I’m growing it back again.
I don’t know what prompts me to shave—whether it’s the summer heat or I just get tired with fussing with it. Maybe this time, it was my thirty-ninth birthday. Maybe I thought, “Hmmm…a baby face wouldn’t be that bad now, would it?” I see pictures of my high school friends on Facebook and think, “I haven’t aged as much as they have…or have I?” Whatever the reason, last week I shaved off my beard for the first time in five years.
My wife was shocked. My children ran out of the house screaming. I went to church, and my parishioners cried.
No—it wasn’t really that bad. I was amused, however, at the response of people at church. People usually prefer what they’re used to, so many said, “You looked better with the beard.” But many said, “You look good, clean-shaven.”
“Clean-shaven?” Really??? As if a man who has a beard is dirty? The last time we sang the hymn, it was called “Jesus Saves,” not “Jesus Shaves!” It’s amazing to me how we use language, either on purpose or inadvertently, that judges people based on appearances.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Praise the Lord—there’s hope in those words! Perhaps you’re like me—glad that God doesn’t look at the outer appearance, but looks at the heart. Whether I’m “clean-shaven” or the opposite (a dirty-faced, bearded man like Jesus?), God loves me still. And He loves you—no matter what you look like. He made you in His perfect image—filled with His glory. I’m so glad that the song isn’t “Jesus Shaves”—but “Jesus Saves!” Aren’t you?