Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.—1 Peter 3:3-4
First thing every morning, my mother would get dressed, do her hair and apply makeup. This was her morning ritual regardless of whether she planned to go anywhere that day. She was physically beautiful, and she valued beauty, having grown up in a culture that emphasized women’s physical attributes.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, beauty was defined by how skinny you were and how much mascara you wore. If your eyelashes extended beyond your body when you stood sideways, you were a babe. In the ‘80s and early ‘90s, beautiful meant big hair. (How my curls still long for those days!) Today curves are coveted, tattoos are in, and rainbow-hued hair is the rage.
Though the definition of beauty has changed, our culture’s emphasis on it has not. But true beauty can only be seen through the eyes of God.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”—1 Samuel 16:7
I know many beautiful women. They come in a variety of sizes and in every color. Some are young, some are middle-aged, and some are awaiting their promotions to glory. Some do their hair and wear makeup, and some go au naturel. Some keep up with fashion trends, and some haven’t updated their wardrobes in 20 years.
True beauty is godliness. It is a loving, kind and gracious heart. It is a disarming genuineness evident in a kind look, a warm smile, a word of concern or a caring touch.
Remember how when we were young, we wanted to be with all the attractive people? They were the ones for whom all the doors opened. Simply by being around them we somehow felt elevated in status.
But as we get older and more mature in our walks with Jesus, we long for friends who truly elevate us—those who are iron sharpening iron in our lives, those who radiate God’s glory from basking in His presence, those who make us long to grow up to be like them.
It is not wrong to spend time making ourselves more attractive. Putting on a little makeup and doing our hair can make us appear more approachable and can also give us an attitude boost, especially when we’re feeling like junk. But physical beauty cannot rule our worlds.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.—1 Timothy 4:8
Our looks and our bodies will eventually betray us. Heck, if you’ve had a baby, you already know your body parts aren’t where you left them. (Just wait. It gets better.) But it’s okay, because—if your faith is in Christ—God will someday give you a perfect body that you won’t have to parade about in a bikini to prove its worth. It’s that “if” clause that matters now and forever: if your faith is in Christ.
Your mission as a Christ-follower, regardless of whether you choose to accept it, is to be the most faithful representation of Jesus you can be. (Oh, and for the record, Isaiah 53:2 tells us Jesus had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.) You don’t need ornate packaging. You just need a heart like His. That’s true beauty.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.—Proverbs 31:30