Beauty That Lasts
by Sade Akanni
“You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight.” (1Pe 3:3-4 GNB)
God’s definition of beauty is completely different from human definition of it. Beauty, men say is in the eyes of the beholder. This focuses essentially on the external appearance. But while men look at the outside, God looks at the heart.
Beauty for a child of God should depend on how God sees it not as how men see it, since our citizenship is no more of the world. “Though we are in the world we are not of the world”. Therefore, our mind must be renewed and reset. Our definitions have to change in accordance with God’s word.
No matter how beautiful you look on the outside, God will not be attracted to you if your inner man (your character) is rotten. A lot of Christians today are more concerned about dressing and maintaining a beautiful appearance. There is nothing wrong in this. However, we must remember that there is a beauty that lasts and there is a beauty that fades. To concentrate attention on beautifying the body at the expense of ‘inner’ beauty is to place priority on things that are temporary and that are eternally inconsequential. Wisdom demands that we put priority on the weightier issues of the kingdom.
We see so much controversy today among God’s people about how a Christian, mostly women, should handle her outward appearance. Worst of all the confusion is spreading even to our young men, who are no longer contented to look like men in appearance. They rather desire to look feminine. This is indeed a very strange development and a confusion at heart.
There are two extremes of outward appearance that are commonly seen among Christian women, and sometimes men. Some appear very shabby and unattractive in a bid to display holiness. Others appear in such a sophisticated way, trying to express Christian liberty so much that it becomes hard to see any difference between them and unbelievers. It has become difficult nowadays to tell whether a woman is a Christian or not, except as she says so. The line of demarcation has become very thin. Many no longer follow the word of God but the inclinations of their own hearts even in their dressing. These things ought not to be so.
The force of ‘legalism’ on one hand and of ‘liberty’ on the other over the issue of dressing has closed the door of ministry to many Christian women. Lack of sensitivity in the spirit and lack of flexibility in God’s hand has also made many unusable to Him in certain environments because of their dressing. Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13,
“I know how to abase and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Unfortunately, many only know how to abound while others only know how to abase. Many have not learned how to adapt and be modest and godly in the face of changing situations, not for selfish reasons, but for the sake of Christ and the gospel.
Early in my Christian life, the Lord started dealing with me about the issue of my outward appearance. While I was not in want of the means to make my hair and dress the way my colleagues did according to the latest fashion around, the hand of the Lord upon my life would not allow me to conform to that standard. The Lord, who knew what future He had for me, kept instructing and restraining me. He was firm on how He wanted my external appearance to be. Again and again, He emphasized that I must concentrate and put priority on beautifying my inner man so as to pleased God and be attracted to Christ my Great Lover who died for me and rose again.
While the issue of beauty is not at all contrary to godliness, it must come from the inner to the outer man, in that order. The inner life is what actually dictates what the external appearance will look like. It is the inner condition that radiates outside. No matter how beautiful a woman appears on the outside, if her character is bad, she will stink even to her lovers; likewise a man.
It therefore becomes necessary to go through the Holy Scriptures in search of the total counsel of God concerning this issue of beauty that last. This will make both you and your way of dressing acceptable and pleasing to God, and harmless to men.
There is a temporary beauty and there is the beauty that lasts. There is a fading beauty and a beauty that is eternal. Physical beauty is pleasant to the eyes but it does not last. The things which are invisible are eternal. There is a kind of beauty that is invisible to the natural eyes. This does not depend on physical appearance. It is not temporal but eternal; such beauty is precious in God’s sight.
Physical beauty is temporal, barren, corrupt and idolatrous. It has a way of introducing idolatry and spiritual barrenness into the lives of those who go for it. Fashion, jewels and clothes could become your idol. It is alright if God made you naturally beautiful. But do not set your mind on it. Do not service it. When you pursue physical beauty, your life will be barren as far as spiritual things are concern. Physical beauty is of the world, not heavenly. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas 4:4). We must set our hearts to fear God and do His will. It is only those who do the will of God that shall abide forever (1Jon. 2:17).
When you make physical beauty your pursuit, it will not follow you ‘home’. It is temporary, it is a fading beauty. It will perish on the way. There is nothing wrong in being naturally beautiful. It is God’s gift. But if you spend your years, money and energy trying to service it rather than developing an inner beauty, you will perish on the way. The desire to pursue external beauty can cut you short and off in the middle of your journey to eternity. That desire must be cut off and uprooted at all cost…
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