As I began a search of the scriptures for beauty, I was touched by what I found. It was striking to find so many references to “the beauty of holiness.”
1 Chronicles 16:29 “Give unto the Lord the glory due His Name: bring an offering, and come before Him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
2 Chronicles 20:21 “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord: for His mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 29:2 “Give unto the Lord, the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 96:9 “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him, all the earth.”
I discovered beauty from a biblical perspective has to do with holiness. Beauty, as was most often spoken of in the old testament has the root word yahpah which means “to be bright, in the same way that a star is bright because of the light that it gives off.”
Upon finding this definition of beauty, it became clear to me that this type of beauty emanates from a deep place in the heart, in a clean heart, where Jesus lives. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
When discussing beauty, Chip Ingram, a well-known Bible teacher said, “what we know is that man and woman was made in the image of God, to reflect who He is. God wants us to communicate His character through the way we live.”
As we bear the name of Christ, we bear a responsibility to walk as He walked, to love as He loved, and to care as He cared. He was concerned with doing the will of His Father, of serving with honor and giving glory to the One who sent Him to do a blessed work. He was always referring back to His Father who had sent Him, making clear His purpose.
In the book of Romans we find in Chapter 12, verses 1 and 2 to “present our bodies, by the mercies of God, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service and to be not conformed to this world: but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
In 1 Peter 3:3-4 we find “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.” I love this scripture! How I long to have that quiet and gentle spirit and for my daily walk to be precious in the sight of God!
Holy means to be set apart. When we are set apart by God, it means that we are His, set apart by Him, for Him, and to Him. He is to use us for His purposes, that we may bear fruit for His kingdom. We cannot serve two masters. We will either bear fruit for His kingdom or be a stumbling block based on the condition and commitment of our hearts.
When I think about Jesus telling us to be Holy even as He is Holy, I feel so humbled and can sense the abundant mercy and grace that He shed on us that He is able to make us Holy, to clean us up so that we can walk in His ways. We cannot do this without His help, without the indwelling Holy Spirit keeping us in Him. Yet we are not without responsibility. I so often think about the Apostle Paul saying “I die daily” meaning to the flesh, putting down, casting aside the contrary ways of the flesh in order to surrender his own will to the will of the Father. It does not come naturally to us to do right. We engage in warfare as we struggle to abstain from or “lay aside the sin that doth so easily beset us.”
We pledge our hearts, our minds, and our lives to the call to holiness, to righteousness, when we come fully surrendered to Christ for salvation and for Him to be the Lord of our lives.
When I think about Jesus becoming Lord of our lives, I think of the word Adonai which means “Master.” After salvation from my sin I am no longer a slave to my sin-nature but instead to my Master who lives and reigns on high and daily calls me to a surrendered life. Do I remain faithful to His call? How can I remain faithful when I still live in a fallen and sinful world?
First of all, I must love and trust and obey my Master. I must remember every day that His standards are the standards that guide my life, not the standards of the world. That takes a continuing dependence on Him and the abundance and unfailing gift of His Grace!
I believe many of us have become so desensitized to sin in the world that unless we are daily renewing our minds in God’s Word and listening to the gentle calling of the Holy Spirit, we fall. Satan is crafty and he works in our minds. As women, we enjoy pretty things, we like to look nice and to be seen as “beautiful.” From the time we are little girls, there is much focus on our appearance. Beauty, in itself, is not a bad thing. God is the One who makes us and who created beauty and He clearly enjoys beauty, too. Just look at the works of His hands. Beauty is His creation. But, as with all other things, God intends for beauty to be for His glory just as it was with Esther in the Bible. Esther’s beauty was given by the Lord and used by Him to save the Jews from Haman’s plot to destroy them.
However, the world has set a standard and definition of beauty that greatly departs from the type of beauty that God bestows. The world has taken beauty and added all sorts of connotations to it that are in contradiction to the definition we see that was used in the Old Testament. Departing from beauty as brightness of countenance emanating from a clean heart and the beauty of God’s Holiness, the world has attached to beauty a superficial meaning, laden with sensual and sexual appeal. When this occurs, it leads to a devaluing of girls and women causing the sense of self-worth to plummet. Oh, how this pains my heart, especially for our young boys and girls.
The older I get, the more I truly hate the perversion of sin. God gives wonderful gifts to us and if only we could remember that all He gives is intended for good! There is something about beauty, either kind I have defined here, that draws people. One kind, the radiant countenance of one who loves and honors God, draws attention. The attention, however, is for the Glory of the Lord. If you love the Lord, you will love others, and as they are drawn to you, you will point them to the Lord. This is a beauty that will not cause others to stumble.
However, a worldly beauty that is sensual or sexually appealing draws attention in the form of lust and literally causes others to stumble. How shameful that we as Christian women can be so led astray as to walk in a way that causes our brothers to stumble. Men and boys are visual. They see and they are affected by what they see. It is how they are made. Christian women have a call to holiness that sets us apart from the world. We are not to look like the world, talk like the world, or walk like the world.
As I pondered these thoughts on beauty from the standpoint of walking as a Christian woman, I asked the question “What would a Christian woman look like who truly walks in the way of the Lord?” And then so clearly it came to me. She looks like somebody loves her, cares for her, sees to her needs; like she belongs to somebody! Modest – she is not on display. She looks gentle, humble, kind, full of joy, compassion and hope. She will do you good and not harm. She is trustworthy.
As I walk through the mall, seeing posters of women barely dressed plastered to the store windows, and see the magazines in the racks at the grocery stores with the most famous people in the world scantily clad on the covers, my heart hurts. It truly does. I’ve raised a daughter and am now raising a son in a world that repeatedly gives them the message that women and girls are to be exposed and on display for the lustful attention of men. How sad this must make the heart of my Heavenly Father. The closer I draw to Him the deeper my hurt over all the sin in the world. Yet, the more determined I become to walk in His ways; to cling to the TRUTH and teach whoever will listen that which is good and right and true.
As I was sitting in church recently, listening to the preacher preach about Jesus dying for us, I had the most incredible realization. I’ve thought of my relationship with the Lord in relationship to the relationship I have with my own children many times, but Sunday took it to a new level. I realized so deeply, that Jesus had a work to do on my behalf when He went to the cross; He knew me ever so personally, even more intimately than I know my own children! He was passionate and committed to the point of death on a cross to free me from the sin He already knew I would face, commit, and shame over and He would not, He did not leave it undone. No…He finished the work to save me. This and this alone defines my worth-The Creator of the Universe, by His sacrifice, showed me what I was worth to Him! How amazing!
May I ever walk as one who is saved! I don’t ever want to cause my brother to stumble! I don’t need the attention of the world, nor do I want it! I want to bring honor and glory to the God who loved me enough to give me grace in my hour of need in spite of my sin; One who would wash me and make me whiter than snow; Remove my shame and love me eternally; Valuing me without fail. What a perfect love. I pray our children will know this love and will be satisfied with the Lord’s mercies and will reject the lies of the deceiver and be victorious in Christ.
As wives and mothers, or young single Christian women, I pray we will give honor to the Lord of Glory by walking worthy of the calling to which we have been called, loving one another, living mindfully of God’s call to holiness that every believer has received.
May we never look to the world for our comfort, validation, or worth. May we never believe the lie that it is okay to walk as the world walks, to look like the world, looks. Modesty, my friends, and the beauty of holiness – brightness that radiates from the heart that and is soul deep-may we strive for that beauty that will never ever fade!
To close this long look at beauty through God’s eyes, I remember Psalm 90:12-19 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord how long? And let it repent thee concerning they servants. O satisfy us with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou has afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”