Dan Hicks, the NBC announcer for the Olympics women’s super-G, declared, “It’s Anna Veith of Austria who repeats as Olympic super-G champion!” After a commercial, NBC went to figure skating. The result pleased me; that made four consecutive gold medals in that event for Austria. I appreciate talent, hard work, and diligence, and Austria’s alpine program shows that. At least, it appeared that way—NBC said so.
But about an hour later, NBC returned to the women’s super-G competition. Seems like several racers hadn’t yet skied when Hicks announced the completion of the race and the winner. The last skier, Ester Ledecka, mainly a skateboarder, beat Veith’s time by .01 seconds, or far less than the time to blink your eye.
Even Ledecka felt shock, “Is this a kind of mistake? OK, they’re going to change the time…and add more seconds.” But reality trumped appearances, and Ledecka took home the gold. Appearances can deceive, can’t they?
I’ve trusted people who appeared trustworthy, until I discovered they weren’t. Friends, ministry partners, and more. I’ve paid a price, relationally and financially. I suspect we all have. Why? Appearances work. Tall people tend to get better jobs. The fit. The attractive. The one who seems to talk the talk and walk the walk of faith. Often, the outward appearance doesn’t match the inward character, but the outward keeps us from probing deeper.
So how do we protect ourselves and express love for others? First, let’s look below the surface and not trust in appearances, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). We tend to focus on how a person looks, but be wary. The two don’t always match.
Instead, let’s take the time to look inside, like God does. We can’t fully, but we can search for indications of their character, the depth of their walk, how trustworthy they’ve been in the past. And we try not to assume, especially when the evidence is scanty.
But we need to examine ourselves as well. Do we rely on impressing people with how we look, how we come off, or with our character, talents, and achievements. I never realized it, but relying on our appearance is a form of dishonesty—it hides our real selves. So maybe we can spend more time on our inward us than our outward one.
And if we do, we may avoid some of the embarrassment Dan Hicks brought on himself. Or worse.
Kick Starting the Application
When is the last time appearances deceived you? Could you have avoided it, maybe by taking more time? What specific things can you do to minimize their happening again? Have you sometimes relied on your appearance when it dishonestly hid other aspects. How does that make you feel? How can you improve?