Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30 NKJV
I love how the NKJV translates that verse. I memorized it in the KJV but this captures an essential component on the discussion here: beauty is passing. It's not something that lasts forever. As a pursuit, it is elusive, subjective and subject to changes outside of a person's control.
Billions of dollars are spent to take ordinary people or those who are less than the most beautiful people and turn them into gorgeous individuals. Plastic surgery, make-up artists, cosmetics, beauty treatments, exercise regimens and fad diets abound. Hollywood is so fixated on outer beauty and being more beautiful than the actress or actor next to them that the bar is set ever higher and the stakes are ever greater. You don't have far to look on the internet to catch a glimpse of one of entertainment's gorgeous people spotted without make-up. Suddenly, the babe of the hottest television show or movie industry looks a bit more like your neighbor. Are we being sold a bill of goods? Have you ever compared today's stars and the looks of those who were considered beautiful in time past? Today's glamour makes yesterday's seem quite plain by comparison.
Not surprising, this fixation on outer beauty has led to some very severe problems in our culture. Eating disorders, unhealthy fad diets, extreme exercise regimens, and dangerous ideas of what a healthy body looks like are a few of the consequences of our outer beauty obssessed world.
This world's concept of what is beautiful is superficial. Don't get me wrong, everyone enjoys sunsets and sunrises, beautiful lakes, mountains and the picture of the Earth from outer space. God has given so much beauty and we would be wrong to say that those who are considered to be outwardly gorgeous people are not in fact part of the magnificence of God's Creation. They are and we cannot help but appreciate that work of art from the Creator's hand.
However, those whose only focus is the external, miss out on a greater beauty that lies beneath the surface. Not beneath the surface of everyone mind you, but irrespective of outer beauty, there are some people who are truly beautiful and we waste our lives and time if we don't learn to recognize, appreciate and surround ourselves with that kind of beauty. In fact, one of our highest pursuits should be to become a truly beautiful person. How is that defined? As the proverb states, "A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."
So how do we find a truly beautiful woman or a truly handsome man in the biblical sense? What is this fear of the Lord and is it attractive? To fear the Lord means to hold Him in reverence. One who fears the Lord, seeks to see things from His perspective. As we are told in 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV), "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” This is what a truly beautiful person "looks" like. He or she has developed the ability to see things as God sees them. While still struggling with favoring someone because of outer beauty, a godly individual will, when given the choice, choose the spirit over the flesh, the holy over the high maintenance.
This is not to say that we shouldn't strive to look our best and be as healthy as we should be. Pastors like me struggle against the expanding mid-section. Obesity is a problem in our world, including the Christian world. And there is nothing wrong with a little make-up to accent our positives and diminish our blemishes.
However, the Bible states that "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" 1 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV). Even Christians are becoming obsessed with six pack abs, concave bellies, beach bodies and the like while ignoring the spiritual component of beauty. What this verse tells us is that bodily exercise, while good, is only a little good. A far greater good and lasting one comes with spiritual disciplines which lead to godliness.
What are those disciplines? Some of the most important are Bible study, prayer, worshiping God with other believers, confession of sin, repentance (sorrow about sin that leads to change), service (to God and His people) and witness (by word and deed). Talk to your pastor or Bible study leader if you feel you need more information on being a truly beautiful person.
Below is a video of a truly beautiful woman. Watch and see if you agree:
God Wins from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.
Breakpoint's commentary on the subject:
Toward a Theological Understanding of Beauty