In part 1 of this series I discussed in detail the fact that most women whether they think they are beautiful or unbeautiful struggle with talking honestly about beauty…Here I pick up where I left off and continue on with a discussion of–what incorruptible spiritual beauty really is!
…If we don’t believe we fit the narrow stereotype society says is beautiful; talking about what beauty entails–tends to make us feel inferior, inadequate and just plain not good enough.
What I think is interesting however is that we have been fed a bill of goods about what true feminine beauty is. In centuries past before visual media could be blasted throughout the known world—the social norms for beauty were wider. You had a few very beautiful girls in your community and you also had some not so beautiful ones–but the community determined what beauty was and most women fell somewhere in the middle.
Today however it is much different from—those days gone by—today the media—decides what is beautiful and then airbrushes it and sends it around the world.
While the average size of a woman in the U.S. is a 14, Madison Ave has decided that “what beautiful is” is a size 0 or 2 and they reinforce their taste by featuring only models, actresses and spokespersons that fit that narrow grid.
And ladies it is not only those who think that they are “unbeautiful” who have it bad!
Those who think they might possibly be beautiful, also struggle because they know that beauty is fleeting and that they can age, change, or fall out of style and be un-beautiful again in a flash.
If the truth be known, even the most physically beautiful women wonder how long they can hold on to their beauty.
So you see, the pressure to be beautiful and keep your beauty in our society is an equal opportunity crazy maker.
But the question is–are we really viewing beauty accurately? –Or are we viewing the entire subject through a faulty lens?
Because–whether society will ever recognize it or not, God says true and lasting beauty is on the inside of a woman! The Bible is emphatic about exhorting women not to be absorbed with outer beauty but to build up the hidden person of the heart.
I Peter 3:3-4 tells us, 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. I Peter 3:3-4
Now to be brutally honest when I first came upon this verse years ago I hated it with a passion. I felt it was unfair that God should show a discretionary bias towards a gentle and quiet woman. This was my opinion, because in my mind, He had created me the polar opposite of the “gentle and quiet” stereotype that I believed He deemed beautiful.
Upon closer examination however, I was surprised to find out that the terms translated “gentleness” and “quietness” in English in the NT — did not mean exactly what I believed them to mean.
“Gentle” is the translation of the Greek word praeos, a word that is routinely translated in the NT as “meek”. When Jesus referred to himself, “meek” was the word that he was most likely to choose. Today the term meek tends to carry with it an idea of passivity and subservience, but it must be understood: the Biblical concept of meekness is different.
In the first century “meekness was a good thing” and meek was one of the great Greek ethical words. Meekness is strength under the control of God; it is the quality or characteristic of being even-tempered and having composure in every situation.
The term “quiet” in 1Pet. 3:3-4 is also different than we might think. The Greek word translated quiet is better translated “restful” or “tranquil.” It has nothing to do with “not talking” or being “silent” but instead depicts a relaxed God-controlled disposition.
Perhaps what stands out to me most about both of these biblical characteristics is that they are qualities that do not come “NATURAL” to anyone. They are not qualities born of a personality type but rather born of the Holy Spirit of God working in one’s life.
I LIKE THAT, because God is not expecting me to shed–the personality that He has given me, but He is instead calling me to submit all that I am to Him–that my personality might be channeled appropriately in a Christlike way.
And on rare occasions in my own life I have actually witnessed “strength with composure” and “a relaxed God-controlled” spirit coming forth as a result of the Holy Spirit working in me. It does not involve me not being me, but me– surrendering who he has made me be–to His Spirit and His divine superintending of my life.
In Eccl. 3, God promises that He makes everything beautiful in His time Eccl. 3:11. By His hand he works miracles in us that beautify us. He places us in situations and circumstances that make beauty come forth and sometimes the places where beauty blossoms forth the strongest are in the most difficult places of life.
In man’s realm time diminishes beauty, while in God’s realm time perfects beauty—Beth Moore
I love God’s realm don’t you!
It takes a lot of courage to say this, but the truth is: I am beautiful as I am. I have the looks and the shape that was gifted to me. My breasts are no longer perky like when I was younger and my hips are wider than a fashion model’s–but for this I am glad, for these are the signs of a well-lived life! and meanwhile I know that God is at work on the inside of me—gracing me with his incorruptible beauty and making me more beautiful that I ever dreamed possible.