Last week Dove put out another feel good video about beauty. The premise was simple. They took two doors that were side-by-side entrances to buildings in major cities around the world and labeled one door “average” and the other door “beautiful”. They put stanchions between the two to help people funnel into the door they had chosen, and then they interviewed women about the door choice they made.
Why are we so concerned about convincing ourselves and others that we are beautiful? Dove continues to make these videos, there are continual facebook ads on the sidebar reading “redefining sexy”, and a push for plus sized models to be called simply “models”. We, as Christians, should not have the end goal of high self esteem, we should have the end goal of confidence in God. We should not find our value in our appearance, but in our salvation and the transformation of our personalities and character by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible has a few very poignant things to say about beauty:
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
– Prov 31.30
Beauty is vain. Do you know why? Because we came from ashes and to ashes we will return. As we grow older, our bodies begin to deteriorate and the beauty of our youth fades away. In Scripture this is actually considered an honor, but our culture values youth and immaturity. We run from commitment, we shun the elderly, and we spend millions of dollars on beauty products and surgeries that help us look younger. But even if we maintain physical beauty for the seventy five years that we have here on earth, when we die, we will become ashes.
“By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
– Gen 3.19
Beauty is vain because it is fleeting, and it is meaningless. It fades with age and forever vanishes upon our death.
“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”
– 1 Peter 1.24-25
But the word of the Lord endures forever! What is it about which God is concerned?
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
– 1 Sam 16.7
God has created each one of us uniquely and individually, and He knows us fully. He knows our physical appearance – counting even the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12.7), He formed our bodies while we were each still in the womb (Ps 139.13), and He chose His own before we were even conceived in the womb (Jer 1.5). But more importantly, He knows our hearts, and He is concerned with the passions and desires of our hearts. David, who was a handsome man, had many wives and immeasurable success and wealth was a man after God’s own heart because he loved God and sought to know and please Him. Physical beauty, wealth and power were gifts from God because of his heart. Paul, perhaps the most influential New Testament author, lived in poverty, with a malady of the eyes, and of modest stature and appearance. No one would have considered Paul handsome, but yet he was one of the most dynamic men to serve the Church.
Beauty is a distraction. God has given us bodies, and expects us to be good stewards of them. The Holy Spirit inhabits our bodies and they are called a “temple” because He resides in us (1 Cor 6.19). We should well care for these temples that He has given us, eating well, practicing good hygiene, exercising, just general good maintenance. We do not do that because we are vain and seek affirmation and attention for our appearance, but because our bodies are a gift from God and we want to honor Him with how we steward them. If we are not faithful in the small things, how will He entrust us with the big things?
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”
– Luke 16.10-12
And if it is our goal to know and honor God, we should try to understand what it is that He finds beautiful. What does He find beautiful?
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
1 Peter 3.3-4
Notice here that Peter does not say we should not get dressed up and try to look our best. He says it should not be only that. Some people take the ascetic route and try to rob God of the glory of the beauty of His creation by purposefully not making themselves beautiful. But God created the Earth in all of its splendor. He created the sunsets, the oceans, the snow, the mountains, everything beautiful. And He created us. We should make ourselves look beautiful – for His glory and His honor. Not for man’s approval.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
– Eph 2.10
God created us to know and honor Him. He created us uniquely, and individually. We were taught as children that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to be beautiful before God, we must love Him, be humble, take care of that which He has entrusted us (namely, our bodies – amongst everything else), and we must value the inner man. Beauty is fleeting and beauty is vain. Charm is deceptive. But the woman who fears the Lord – she will be praised. Let’s stop focusing on making ourselves feel better by trying to convince ourselves and one another that we are beautiful. Every woman has body issues. Every. Single. One. But our bodies are not the end goal. They will die and return to ash. Our souls will not. Let’s focus on being women and people who love and honor God. Be beautiful and healthy to the glory of God, but remember that God looks on the heart.
How much time do you spend getting physically ready for each day?
How much time do you spend getting Spiritually ready for each day?
Which do you think God values more?