Today’s message text for Mother’s Day as presented by Lynn Gaines:
When Pastor Gus asked me to speak for the Mother’s day service, I thought he meant a supplemental reading—then he said no—he meant the main message! So I regrouped and asked the Lord what He wanted me to talk about, and He gave me this topic: “What is True Beauty?” …so here it goes…
The Webster’s (Dictionary) definition of beauty is:
- A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
- A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense.
The definition of beautiful is:
- Pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically
- Of a very high standard; excellent.
Type in a Google search for “beautiful women” and a flood of images come up – women with unusual eyes, long hair (with a random shot of Halle Berry’s pixie cut tossed in), Angelina Jolie pouty lips and pleasing curves. What’s interesting to me is that as I look around, most women I see don’t fit that definition! I know a lot of women that I consider beautiful, but they don’t necessarily fit the world’s description… in fact when I think of beautiful women, some physical attributes come to mind, but usually for me it’s other “unseen” things that come to mind when I think of the word beautiful. For example, my mom is physically attractive but it’s her calmness, her elegance, her love and support of others that make her beautiful to me.
We see a lot today about how the world defines “beautiful people”–perfect hair, teeth, and skin (sometimes accompanied by large homes and a jet setting life)–but is that all there is to beauty?
What happens if you don’t fit the stereotype does that mean you’re ugly?
All of us as women are bombarded with constant imagery that only a few can live up to. From Toddlers in Tiaras to the Bachelorette to the Miss America pageants, we are constantly being inundated with all these images of what the media deems “beautiful”. The average American woman is a size 12-14 yet when we are shown supposedly “beautiful women,” they are usually a size 0-4–so is everyone else less beautiful? (Man, I sure hope not…)
There are reports now where girls as young as 12 are getting cosmetic surgery done, not because it’s necessary, but because they want a certain feature to look a certain way. In “Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem,” a survey of more than 1,000 girls in the United States showed that 70 percent of girls ages 8 to 17 believed that they “are not good enough” or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school, relationships with friends and family members and they are looking to plastic surgery to give them a mental boost and the confidence that they are beautiful.
When someone says, “She is beautiful”, what is the first thing you think of? -what is on the outside or the inside? Sadly, in our culture today, one’s mind usually goes to the outside.
Magazines, TV, and books have all hijacked the definition of what beauty means and they are using it to promote a better bottom line for their products- buy this dress/perfume/hairstyle/book and voila, instant beauty!! But I contend that there is more to beauty than what you see and it’s more than money can buy…
More encouraging, another study done by the Dove Campaign found that:
- 77 percent of women strongly agree that beauty can be achieved through attitude, spirit, and other attributes that have nothing to do with physical appearance.
- 89 percent strongly agree that a woman can be beautiful at any age.
- 85 percent state that every woman has something about her that is beautiful.
The study also found that two-thirds of women strongly agree that physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty includes much more of whom a person is. Women rate happiness, confidence, dignity, and humor as powerful components of beauty, along with the more traditional attributes of physical appearance, body weight and shape, and even a sense of style.
But the question still remains, what is true beauty? Well I believe that to find the best answer, we have to go to the Creator – So I investigated the scriptures to see what it said about beauty and interestingly enough, there was not a thing about pouty lips or an hourglass figure–Scripture lets you know that those things will go away (by the way, if you don’t believe this, you will).
It’s a woman’s reverence for God—how she carries herself because she knows the Lord—it’s THAT quality that makes her beautiful. Physical beauty is fleeting, but true beauty (virtue) is timeless.
Moms, Grandmas, Grandpas, Dads, Uncles, Aunts—begin to affirm your daughters, nieces and granddaughters, the young women in your lives. Tell them they are beautiful—not because of how they look but how they carry themselves as God’s creation. (A side note to Fathers—it is the important men in a young woman’s life that inform her of what other men see as beautiful and if they don’t get the correct message from the good men in their lives, they will get an incorrect message from men in the world.)
Now, this is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list, but I want to look at 5 Scriptures that will give us a better idea of what God looks for in the “Beautiful” person:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
In Genesis 1:27 it says So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
So if we are created in His image, we can concluded that we are as beautiful as God is – and God makes no mistakes and He makes no junk! Just like the snowflakes that He creates, no two people are alike either, but all are equally beautiful. The Psalmist says he is fearfully and wonderfully made and that God’s works are wonderful–now, does that sound like the measuring stick for true beauty is based on physical attributes?
Consider this next scripture:
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Again, it seems that our natural inclination as people is to look on the outward appearance and once again God stresses that He has a totally different point of view–He looks at the heart.
Now he says in Jeremiah 17:9 the heart is desperately wicked but He also says in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. So there is hope for our wicked hearts, hope that they can truly be beautiful–that will happen as we submit them to a loving Father and let Him transform them.
Here’s a verse you may have heard a lot in reference to a woman’s beauty—
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
This verse is telling us that although physical beauty fades with age, it’s the beauty that come from being in awe of God that will really impress Him, that reverence for God that is true beauty to Him – and He is the only judge that truly matters. It’s comforting to know that we can become more beautiful to God simply by showing reverence for Him–or, to put it another way, it’s our love for Him that makes us more beautiful to Him. And His opinion is the one that counts.
1 Peter 3:3-4 says:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Now before anyone goes too far in his or her thinking, this not a call to a legalistic dress code (although I am a champion for modesty) and this does NOT mean go around in a sack, with no make-up on and try to be as plain as possible. It’s not wrong to make the most of what you have, but it is dangerous to rely on that alone to be the barometer for your beauty, because ladies and gentleman if you hadn’t noticed, things change–and not always for the better (!). I don’t know about you, but I know there is more of me to love these days.
To give you the context of Peter’s remarks, in the culture of that day, some of the Egyptian women were spending hours and hours working on their hair, makeup, and finding the perfect outfit (sounds a lot like today actually–some things never change…) and Peter was exhorting the Christian woman to realize that true beauty was more about how she carried herself and where her focus was (on the Lord) rather than “who” she was wearing.
Finally 1 Timothy 4:8 says:
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Now there is nothing wrong with physical training–it is, in fact, a good thing. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is good to keep our “temples” together so we can better serve the Lord. However, today we are sometimes overly fascinated with comparing ourselves to others and who’s got the most perfect body and getting our bodies to look “perfect” when a better use of some of our time might be spent on “spiritual” exercises (actually much easier on the back, and more beneficial).
Some folks who would never skip a weekly visit to the gym, will go weeks without lifting up their bibles and impress their hearts with the Word of God… no matter how perfect your physical body is (or isn’t)—the criteria for being “fit for heaven” is knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior (thank Goodness), the criteria for beauty is a spirit that is in awe of God.
So I want to leave you with these thoughts:
Ladies–recognize that true beauty is defined not by the world and man but by God and that TRUE beauty is an “inner” thing, not just an appearance thing.
Work with what God gave you physically, take care of God’s temple and focus your energy not on perfect physical features but a spirit that reveres God. Now that’s beautiful!
Copyright © Lynn Gaines. All rights reserved.
Lynn is a Senior Designer/Illustrator with American Greetings Corporation.