I remember when I discovered that what people see “in me” affects how they respond to the things that I do. You see, we make assumptions of people all the time. Sometimes those assumptions are based on years of experience and analysis of prior actions and attitudes and sometimes those assumptions are established with a first impression.
My lesson was in the third grade. What the teachers saw in one kids was a bully that picked on anyone. What the teachers saw in me was a kid who cared about others. When I got mad at that bully and started a fight (yes, I started it), the teachers saw a good kid and a bully fighting. Their assumptions of who we were inside impacted how they responded to both us in the fight. He was sent to in school suspension and I was told to behave and avoid him.
Flash forward to my first summer out of High School. I wanted to buy a nice watch (I had been earning ‘real’ money now) and I decided to do an experiment. With the cash in my pocket, I dressed in ripped up jeans, no belt, a wrinkled shirt half tucked in, messed up hair (yes, I had hair then). I went into a nice jewelry shop and received absolutely no attention (accept from the eyes of the security guard). Then a week later, I game dressed for work. Nice slacks, a pressed shirt and tie, well kept. I was greeted with a warm greeting as I entered the store. You see, what they saw in me, impacted their perception if I was worth their time for a potential sale.
Paul said, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:16-17)
When I changed from being dressed like a slob to being dressed nice, I was ‘regarded’ as one worthy of their time. Nothing had changed but I was treated differently. Ironically, when we treat people well consistently, they’re likely to respond to that as well.
When I regard someone according to the flesh, I am assuming the flesh is all they are. Their outward appearance, their character… all humanity. However once I discover they have the Holy Spirit inside of them, the outward appearance no longer has meaning. I know their humanity is nothing but a shell. Clean cut or covered in tattoos… if they have the Holy Spirit inside of them, they are BOTH the same. Broken vessels healed and filled with the Spirit. It is no longer the outward shell of a person I connect with but instead it is the Spirit in them.
Regardless of outward appearance, all who have the Spirit are no longer defined by their flesh. Look past their flesh and only at the Spirit of the Lord that dwells inside of them.