istock_000003166559_smallLurking amidst a stack of coupons that recently landed in my mail box was the following assurance: New Year, New You! The colorful mailer expounded upon this promise by hinting their laser technology could erase all of the following: wrinkles, crows feet, dark circles, acne scars, age spots, smile lines sagging and unwanted hair.

Of course, the underlying message in all this is, these facial features are bad, but if you rid yourself of them you will be a brand new person. On the outside perhaps, but what about the inside? Do clothes really make the man?  Will laser surgery really make a woman beautiful from the inside out?

A verse in the Bible speaks to this dilemma. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23).

In other words, while we may alter our appearance to a certain extent, it is as impossible for us to change our bent, our nature, our character, as it is for a leopard to transform its spots into stripes and be a zebra!

We just can’t do it! Hard as we try, we can not manufacture within ourselves that which is not already there. For example, love, patience, kindness, or self control. And, no amount of external aesthetics can implant in our hearts the loving disposition or temperament we would all like to display.

A well-spring of hope

However, connected to the source of these virtues, we may receive them and exhibit them in our lives. The Bible tells us that well-spring is God. “…for love comes from God…because God is love” (1 John 4:7, 8).

The promise stands that if we seek God and Christ and come to know them, we will be transformed into their likeness, which is love. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Out with the old; in with the new!