The Beauty in the Mirror
Recently, The Dove company, whose logo is “you are more beautiful than you think,” conducted an experiment with a group of women. Using the talents of a forensic sketch artist, they asked several women to describe themselves verbally for the artist to sketch; he could not see them because a curtain separated them. Next, an acquaintance was asked to describe the same person to the artist. The two sketches of each woman were then compared. Interestingly, the sketches drawn from the woman’s own descriptions were not as lovely or attractive. The women saw themselves as less beautiful than they actually were. In fact, according to the Dove company, only 4% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful. (You can view a video of the experiment here.)
The connection between how we see ourselves and how we relate to others is important. In a world were beauty is esteemed as being very important, women often find themselves caught in emotional traps and unbiblical ways of thought concerning beauty and the worth of a woman. I want to be transparent with you about some thoughts and emotions I have had concerning beauty. The reason for my openness is that I believe many women find themselves in conflict with society’s definition of beauty and the reflection in the mirror.
Have you ever thought . . .
I want to be beautiful, really pretty?
I am not pretty like the other gals that I see?
I am told by the media that beauty is the most important aspect of a person?
I can see that beauty gains advantage in many areas of life?
I am saddened that I am not pretty enough?
I do not feel that I have as much worth as someone who is beautiful?
It is easier to believe that others are beautiful than to see any beauty in myself?
This internal conflict led me to seek a biblical understanding of beauty and of my worth before God.
At the heart of this struggle is a deep desire to be loved, a desire inherent in every person.
Yet, an imbalance in the pursuit of physical beauty can lead to a desire to elevate myself to be admired by others, resulting in sin.
A Desire to be Loved
“Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:3 You were created for relationship, for an interconnectedness with others, for love. From beginning to end, the story of the Bible is about God’s eternal, sacrificial love for us and His command for His children to live in love. God is love (1 John 4:16). His love is greater than life itself (Psalm 63:3). We need to receive love, and we need to give love (1 John 4:11). The question The Lord asked of me it this, “Is my love enough for you?” Just like the Israelites, we often spend so much time and energy seeking to be loved and accepted by others. True love of self and others can only be healthy when it follows a dependence on the love of God. If you had the approval, admiration, and love of no one else, would God’s love be enough for you? Because God is my Father, I am expected to love as He loved by the power of the Holy Spirit. Feelings of inadequacy in the area of physical appearance can cause one to be jealous of others, to compete with other women, or to feel too unworthy to care for others. Yet, the truth of God’s love provides the basis for genuine love between His children. God desires us to know His sacrificial love and to love others sacrificially.
God Looks at the Heart
You may be familiar with the account of David being chosen as king in 1 Samuel 16. At this time, Saul is rejected as king, and Samuel is sent to anoint the new king from the sons of Jesse. When the oldest son enters, Samuel is impressed with what he sees, a man of stature. The Lord corrects Samuel by saying, “. . . The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” If this verse is taken in isolation, one might deduce that God cares nothing about physical beauty. But that would be an incorrect assumption. Looking down in verse 12 of the same chapter, we see that David is described as ruddy, with beautiful eyes, and handsome. In fact, not only was David good looking, but also Sarai, Rachel, Joseph, Abigail, and others. God created these people with physical beauty.
So why does the Lord give some more physical beauty than others? Is He holding out because He favors one over the other? I encourage you to stop now and read all of Psalm 139. The great God of the universe knows you; He knows your thoughts before you think them. The great God of the universe formed you in the womb; when you were hidden from human eyes, He could see you. The great God of the universe thinks of you; He is with you. You are lovingly created. He has withheld nothing good from you. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
You are created uniquely to serve God according to the plans He has for your life. The last verse in this chapter refers to the inner man, the place where God sees. The writer of this Psalm asks God to look deep and correct the psalmist if there is any sinfulness directing his heart. Has the desire for beauty caused you to spend your energies disproportionately? Do you judge the worth of yourself and others based on physical appearance? If so, confess to the Lord and ask Him to transform your mind in this matter.
Beauty and Light
Many Hebrew words are translated as ‘beauty’ in the Old Testament. These same words can be translated as ‘glory, pleasant, splendor, majesty.’ They are often used to describe the Lord, worship of the Lord, God’s greatness, and the city of Zion.
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him! Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” 1 Chronicles 16:29 The verses that describe Sarai (Sarah), David, and others, use a Hebrew word, yapheh, translated ‘beauty.’ Interestingly, the root of this Hebrew word has a meaning of ‘bright.’
What is needed to see beauty? Light makes it possible for the eyes to see. God gives us light to see beauty which reflects the glory of God. Very important to the discussion of beauty is the understanding that physical attractiveness is not equivalent to the light of God’s Spirit shining through the life of a person. Eyes that shine for the glory of God and a countenance that is bright because of a close walk with the Lord are beautiful.
God’s Beauty Tips
Ultimately, I want to be beautiful when God’s eyes are on me. I want Him to be pleased with what He sees. How can I think of beauty in a Biblical way?
1. Physical beauty is part of God’s creation, reflecting back to the goodness and glory of God. Physical beauty is a good thing, a declaration of the goodness and glory of God. Yet, physical beauty is temporary. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain (breath, passing, temporary), but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
2. Considering God’s word to Samuel about His concern for the condition of the heart, note also a New Testament verse written specifically to women. “Do not let your adorning be external. . .but let your adorning be the inner person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
3. God considers those who share His good news of salvation with others to be beautiful. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” Romans 10:15b
4. Based on Psalm 139, I honor the Lord when I praise Him for creating me, just as I am. I honor God Creator as my Lord, choosing to receive His will and plan for my life. Knowing that God is good, I can trust Him.
One of the gals on the Dove video mentioned above makes these statements:
“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices and the friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”
This woman believes that how we view ourselves is a determining factor in how we live our lives. Her life is changed by seeing herself in a different light.
How much more can a daughter of God, lovingly created to bring glory to God, be grateful for her beauty? Can you thank your Creator for His formation of you? Will His light shine through you as you worship Him in the beauty of Holiness?