Beauty, Part VI ~ Beautiful To The Core

There is a poem from the Renaissance period called The Fairie Queene by Edmund Spenser. In it, the hero is beguiled by the extraordinary beauty of a woman called Duessa. Duessa represents deceit and falsehood in the story, and her allure is a trap. She is beautiful to look at, but that is all. In the end, she is ‘disrobed’ and her outward beauty is stripped away so that she revealed for who she is – a wretched, awful witch.

We all know the saying that ‘beauty is only skin deep,’ but we live in a culture that seems to reinforce the idea that that is all that matters anyway. But this is not what God says to us. Another way He wants to free us from a focus on our outward appearance is to grow our understanding of true and lasting beauty, and to focus on cultivating this. Real and enduring beauty according to God has everything to do with who we are.

“What matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewellery you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in” 1 Peter 3:3-4.

Think for a moment about these two types of beauty – outer appearance and inner disposition. One makes an impression for a moment; the other that comes through in a woman’s words, expressions, actions and character. One is fleeting; the other leaves a lasting imprint on the lives of those it touches.

There is one thing I find really interesting about the women who appear in the Bible. Although their physical beauty is mentioned, that is not the beauty that is influential about them. These women are noteworthy because of the beauty of who they are and what they do. Think of Esther or Abigail – each of these women is described as beautiful but it is the beauty of their humility before God, their faithfulness to Him and their courage that make them remarkable.

One last point is have you ever noticed the way that people with a really close relationship with Jesus often emanate a kind of radiance from within that is very beautiful? There’s this wonderful psalm about this that says, “they looked to Him and were radiant” Psalm 34:5. My friend, Jill, actually pointed out to me that a different word for “beautiful” is used in Hebrew for people in the Bible who have this kind of radiance and beauty. Instead of toar which refers to beautiful “form” the word yapheh is used, which refers to beauty of “countenance” – King David and Abigail are described as having this kind of beauty.

Jill described yapheh as “a countenance when person invests in their inner person. It is very attractive to the eye.” Regarding the glory of God radiating in a person’s face and body, she also made the great point that it is “a beauty that cannot be grasped, copied or even created by surgeons. It draws people to you, or away in shame and does not get less with age! The best beauty treatment for a woman is a few hours in the presence of God.”

So as we grow this perspective of cultivating inner beauty, does that mean that we stop wearing make-up? We’ve seen how the pressures of conforming to our culture’s ideal can be unhelpful, but does that mean that we give up caring about our appearance altogether? Come back to hear more tomorrow in the post, So Is Make-Up OK?

© Copyright 2007 Birgit Whelan


~ by Birgit on August 15, 2007.


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