“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and wearing of gold jewellery and 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.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)
First and foremost let’s debunk the lie that your beauty and your inherent attractiveness are measured by your outward appearance. Beauty is not borne of genetics or socio-cultural standards. What matters is your inner disposition.
“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle gracious kind that God delights in.” (MSG)
Other versions describe the inner disposition as an “Incorruptible beauty… very precious in God’s sight.” (NKJV); a “lasting beauty” (NET); an “ageless beauty … the greatest value in God’s sight.” (GNB) or the “unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit which, [is not anxious or wrought up]” (AMP)
If beauty was defined by our external appearance alone, then an ‘imperishable’, ‘ageless’ beauty is a physically unattainable goal. God does not care much for external appearances as he cares for our inner condition. We live in a society of contradictions. We are taught “don't judge a book by its cover” and yet we do exactly that everyday. We judge people by their covers - their “external adornments.” We even judge ourselves by our covers. How many of us can pin point and list exactly that which we don’t like about ourselves? Trouble areas we love to hate on. Never truly satisfied with how we look. Thunder thighs; flabby arms; jelly belly; big nose; small eyes; dark circles; too fat; too skinny. The list is endless! But what right does the clay have to say to the potter, ‘I don't like the way you made me?’
“For we are God’s masterpiece.” – Ephesians 2:10
We are hand crafted by God and created to bear his image. We think of image and associate it with external appearances – the first look summation of any one person. God’s definition of image actually has nothing to do with our exteriors. Men and women bear different aspects of God’s image, or in other words, his character. If we look at Eve, we discover how women were created to bear God’s relational side. “It is not good for man to be alone, therefore I will make a suitable helper for him.” (Genesis 2:18) Eve was created to take part in the adventure alongside Adam essentially demonstrating that women play a role in God’s big adventure too. Have you ever noticed how God’s creations get progressively more complex? The first thing he creates on the earth is “vegetation, seed bearing plants and trees” (Gen 1: 11); sun, moon and stars (Gen 1:16); sea creatures; birds (v. 21); land animals – livestock and wild animals (v.25) and finally man (v.27). However, if you read in chapter two, Eve is the very last thing God creates. “Then God made woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22) Eve is the crown of creation. She is the cherry on top. Without her, creation is incomplete!
The enemy has fooled us into believing our beauty is purely external. If you focus and believe that your beauty is founded in external appearances then the enemy succeeds in making you neglect the condition of your spirit which is of GREAT value, is VERY precious and of IMMEASURABLE worth. God describes this beauty as a “gentle and quiet spirit.” (1 Peter 3:4) This is a spirit that is found in one whose confidence is in the Lord. She knows that God is always by her side: “Do not be afraid, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). She is not striving on her own accord: “I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). She knows that gentleness is not synonymous with weakness: "You were not given a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
What is attractive is not your physical appearance but your spirituality. Your heart for God is the most attractive quality you can have. A prerequisite for a gentle and quiet spirit is a hope in God. “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.” (1 Peter 3:5)
These Godly women adorned themselves with gentleness and quietness of spirit that was borne of a hope and unwavering faith in God. Their hope was not in the conditions around them, or the success of their endeavours for Christ, the stability of family or the fruition of God’s written love story. Rather, their hope is in God, the work of the cross and the promises of the Bible.
“A branch does not attain the attributes of the vine apart from the vine.” (John 15:4) Neither will you attain the beauty of Christ apart from Christ. The fruit of the branch comes from the provision of the vine. Let your hope and your confidence be securely fastened to God. Beauty is a gentle and quite spirit that points every man and woman to the One who is most beautiful. Think about the modesty of spirit. What is a modest spirit? One that is humble and hopeful; rested and reassured and grounded in Christ.
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:10-11