“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain. But the woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
Fear of “The Frump”
This past week, I brought lunch to my husband Andrew, at his work. I had planned to meet him outside at a picnic table, but on my way over, he texted me saying that one of his coworkers was excited that Caleb (our 7-month-old) was coming by.
One of my first thoughts was how I didn’t want to go up to the office area in my current state. My hair was a frizzy mess from blasting the car AC all morning, and I just generally felt like a frumpy mom that day. I didn’t want Andrew’s co-workers to think of me that way. Can you relate?
Proverbs 31:30 tells us that “beauty is vain.” Outward beauty, that is. I was worried about my external adornment, when what is truly precious in God’s sight is “the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
What is Your Motivation?
It’s funny how, on another given day, I could have walked into the office feeling confident, because I was sufficiently put together on the outside, and not have given thought to whether my “inner adornment” was honoring to God. This is because I am proud, and I often care more about what others think of me than what God thinks. In other words, I fear man more than I fear the Lord.
It’s not that we shouldn’t give any thought or attention to our physical appearance, but rather it is about our motivation in doing so. In everything, we are to desire to glorify God, and that includes in our diet, fitness regimen, wardrobe choices, cosmetics routine, etc. As Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre write in their excellent little book True Beauty, “Sadly, our eating and exercise habits often reveal a preoccupation with ourselves, rather than God’s glory.”
It is wise to stop and evaluate our thought process as we get ready in the morning or while we sift through racks of clothing at the mall. Are your decisions regarding outward appearance driven by the desire to draw attention to yourself, gain popularity, or be admired and praised by your peers, or is there a humble heart that longs to please God above all others behind these everyday decisions?
Imperishable Inward Beauty
A woman who focuses on fearing the Lord wants to honor Him through her appearance. She desires that any physical beauty she possesses would make God and His gospel attractive to others. She seeks to deflect attention and praise away from herself and onto her Savior. She asks the Lord to cultivate her imperishable inward beauty, the kind that lasts long after physical perfection has faded.
A woman who fears the Lord walks into the situation I laid out in the opening paragraphs with a desire to display the beauty of Jesus through her inward adornment. She is not preoccupied with her frizzy “mom-do” and what others will think of it, because she is busy looking for opportunities to honor God in her speech and attitude. As a believer, she sees every interaction as an opportunity to adorn the gospel, and that is far more important to her than being admired for her outward beauty.
Again, taking care of our bodies, enjoying a good makeup job or haircut, and appreciating fashion can all be very good things when put in their right place. However, they must never take precedence over our attention to our “inner clothing.” Our physical charm will wither with time; seek the internal age-defying beauty that God calls you to.
Can you pinpoint areas in your life where you are more concerned with your outward adornment than inner? Does the perception of others matter more to you than what is in your heart? Does a healthy fear of the Lord inform your beauty choices?
“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).