No matter what this world thinks, God is the author of beauty. From the beginning of the world, beauty was flawless and intact the way God designed it. The Garden of Eden was the monument of glorious beauty: majestic, towering trees with lush branches of leaves; lush, blooming flowers of every size and color; sparkling rivers holding sleek fish with shimmering hues; and a huge variety of creatures of strength and fragile beauty. All these held a perfection that only He could create. Greatest of all, however, was His prized creation – man and woman. They, too, were lovely, artfully made in such a way that no one could deny their wonder . . . and the wonder of their Creator.
Then the despicable happened. Man and Woman sinned, sending all of God’s perfect beauty into a future leading to death. It no longer was flawless, but was subject to the law that it would one day shrivel up and decay. God’s first masterpiece of beauty was destroyed.
With the loss of physical perfection came a loss of spiritual perfection as well. It sent all of humanity into a state of sin the moment they were born. With it came a carnal mind that was selfish and flawed in its view of beauty. What once saw things through the eyes of the Creator now looked at things through smudged glasses that saw only the flaws. That view was critical and prejudice. It based everything on its own carnal opinion rather than the truth.
Nothing has changed. Beauty is still subject to a person’s opinion – those smudged beauty glasses we’re all born with. For a woman to be considered “beautiful,” it must follow some super model criteria. The waist must be of tiny proportions. The height must be tall, but not too tall. The skin must be smooth and flawless, cheekbones high. The lips must be full, providing a wide smile. The eyes must be large and round with long eyelashes. The ears must not stick out, and the nose must not be too big. This, according to the latest fashion and beauty trends, is true beauty . . . and it’s all physically based.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (I Samuel 16:7)
Like Samuel, our human instinct is to look at what our eyes can see in the natural. To understand God’s definition of beauty, however, we must go back to Creation as God originally intended. When Adam and Eve were made, God created them in His image (Genesis 1:27). This was not referring to just our physical image; it was referring to God’s spiritual image. He is a spiritual being so He made us in the same way. Though we feel and see only our natural bodies, the true us is deep inside. Our spirits are hidden from natural view, but they are alive and well. Our spirits are who we are – the part of us that will last forever. That’s the part that God sees . . . and He calls it beautiful.
“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)
Based on the world God first designed, we know God appreciates beauty that can be seen. Just the same, He has placed the desire for beauty on the inside of us. We can’t deny our human instincts to be attracted to beautiful things before the ugly ones. As women, we will be forever enjoying classy clothes, cute shoes, and pretty jewelry. Even the women of the Bible sported these outward accessories and desires.
Where our standards get misaligned, however, is when we prioritize the outward beauty over the inward beauty. We focus our worth, not on the state of our spirits, but on the state of our bodies. Our value is found, not in the “hidden person of the heart,” but in our outward adornment.
This is tragic for two reasons. Its first flaw is that one day we will be disillusioned by the constant attempt to be that super model – a standard that no one can meet. Because Adam and Eve sinned, imperfection in our bodies and nature showed up. No matter how hard we try, at least one flaw can be found on our person. This, of course, is not good enough for the world’s standards as they are driven by a flesh that hates its own flaws and that is striving to be something it can’t be. In the process, it tries to make us believe that we have to strive right along with them lest we all be insignificant, ugly nobodies. Even if we are blessed with a slender, curvy figure, one day that figure will begin to sag, lose shape, and lose color. Where is our value then?
The second flaw is that out of that misery comes the inability to become the women we were always meant to be. We’re so focused on making the outside perfect, that we neglect developing who we are in the inside. That “gentle and quiet spirit” is what dictates our lives, but if it’s undernourished and neglected, it becomes weak and tainted by other influences. The gentleness turns into selfishness, and the quietness turns into frustration. Slowly God’s image on the inside looks nothing more than a hidden and unidentifiable object of our past. The world cannot tell the difference between us and our unsaved neighbor. Our life’s assignment from God turns to rubble, and we’re left in a state of unhappiness and dashed expectations.
Quite the opposite is true when we find our value and identity in the image God gave us. The world’s demanding standards don’t stand a chance against the unconditional acceptance God has for the beauty we possess. We’re no longer frustrated or insecure about our outward “flaws” but are content in our uniqueness. Out of that security and contentment comes a desire to invest in the beauty of the heart. We are fulfilled and happy as we fulfill God’s plan for our lives. We are filled with joy as we consistently sense His approval – not just over our gentle and quiet lifestyle – but over the glorious reflection of His image in us.
Favor is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)