Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder . . .

What the Bible says: “Let your [beauty] be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” - 1 Peter 3:4 ESV

Quote: “A woman of beauty . . . knows in her quiet centre where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, and deems her worthy, and in Him, she is enough.” -  John and Stasi Elderedge

Beauty. Hmm, what a huge topic for girls and women! One of my favourite verses in the Bible speaks to us, as women, directly about beauty: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30). This gets to the heart of the matter. We, as women and girls, yearn to be noticed and loved, and one way we try and achieve this is by attempting to beautify ourselves and by emulating those whom we perceive to be beautiful. This is not wrong and indeed we need to be doing this in some way, for as His children, God does want us to look beautiful as He intended us to, and to take proper care of our bodies. But it should not be our ultimate goal.

When it comes to beauty, I know that we, as girls and women, often find one extreme and stick to it. Many of us feel that in order to be acceptable, we must be as beautiful as possible and so spend a lot of time trying to reach our ideal view of beauty, at the neglect of the shaping of our inner beauty. However, others (like me!) can become so focussed on shaping their inner beauty that they hardly bother with their outward appearance. This in itself can be disastrous, as you can distance yourself too far from the world and in doing so, find it very difficult to evangelise. I am sure that Christ calls us to keep ourselves from either extreme, so that we can both identify with the world (while not being of it) and so that the most important part, our inner beauty can become more and more refined each day.

Note that in 1 Peter 3:4, we are reminded that Christ is more concerned with our hearts than our outward appearance. Remember, Jesus Himself was described as being beautiful only in an ordinary human way in Isaiah 53:2: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” Jesus looked like a man, but it was his heart and attitude that was different from any other.

It's easy for us to envy those who are beautiful and to attempt to emulate them (many times I have wished I looked like some of Charles Dicken's heroines!), yet I believe that we need to think beyond appearances. For, as James 1:11 says, “For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.” We are here on this earth for a limited time – while we may look gorgeous here on earth today, what would happen if we found ourselves face to face before God tomorrow? Rather than just focussing on the outward appearance, we need to store up eternal treasures of emulating Christ, who is far better than anything or anyone else!

Here is a link to a good sermon on beauty: Wisdom for today #7 - "Exhibit Wisdom's beauty" - (Proverbs 3:21-35); http://www.sermons.org.nz/mp3/grbc2009/Proverbs-07.mp3 One of the first steps to being truly beautiful in God's sight is to be a follower of Him. Pastor Dafydd Hughes here explores how important it is for us to be following the "beauty of [woman] Wisdom" when in a living relationship with Christ, in order to be better witnesses for Him.

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