Okay okay, I will admit that I sometimes fall for different beauty trends, mainly because I don’t love how my body looks. We know the cosmetic industry thrives on the insecurities of women (my last Sephora receipt is hard evidence of that), yet I somehow keep feeding into it. Behind each purchase is a glimpse of hope that a product will do what it says it will to improve my appearance. We can chalk it up to wanting to take care of our bodies, but we know how easily that can become an idol. Often, that’s a very fine line for women as there’s just as much pressure to be beautiful on the outside as on the inside, if not more.
I was recently convicted by a devotional that my boyfriend sent me regarding inner beauty, hence this article. The passage it referenced was from 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV), “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.” Regardless of what ads and commercials tell us, outer beauty will fade. It doesn’t matter how much anti-aging, wrinkle-reducing, dark spot-correcting creams and serums we use. Despite the empty promises of the world, God knows of a beauty hack that will deliver each time. Yep, it’s the Bible! (I know, cheesy right?)
If there's a type of beauty that will last, why are we spending all of our time and effort on one that will undoubtedly dwindle away?
God’s Word is trustworthy. Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless, that includes cultivating inner beauty. I know it’s fun to try out the latest make up trends, but I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we'd say that we draw much of our confidence from how we look. As Christians, our confidence comes from our identity in Christ, we are a new creation in Him. That means the old way of thinking is gone. We are to put on the mind of Christ and not seek the approval of men. How many of us actually do this? Yeahhhh, about that...well there’s no time like the present. Let’s start unpacking God’s definition of beauty, His approval is what matters most.
Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit and it sure doesn’t come easily to me. Growing up, I watched people who were seemingly gentle-hearted get walked all over by others and I therefore viewed them as weak. This is not the kind of gentleness we see Jesus display in the Bible, rather it is His strength. He said, “‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’” (Matthew 11:29 NIV). Um hello, that’s powerful! Take a minute and let that sink in. Can anything or anyone else claim to provide rest for your soul? The power of gentleness is evident in what it produces when we take and eat of its fruit. That’s why Jesus said, “learn from me.”
God doesn't just have gentleness, He is gentleness.
Because we are created in the image and likeness of God, He has entrusted His children with the power of this attribute. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV). “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4 NIV). A gentle response has the ability to not only dissolve a dispute and shift someone’s emotions, but it is also life-giving. “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25 NIV). “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1 NIV). Gentle instruction opens the door for repentance.
As we can tell, gentleness does not imply silence, rather it is about self-control. Quietness means you are slow to speak and quick to listen. And from the examples above, its affect is profound. With power comes responsibility, that’s why I believe Jesus said He is gentle and humble. Humility requires us to recognize that no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Developing inner beauty requires a personal relationship with God. Our beauty standard is His standard. To mirror God’s gentleness we must experience His gentleness toward us first, in speaking with Him and reading His Word. There is no greater compliment, in my opinion, than someone saying, “I see Jesus in you.” Isn’t it beautiful to show someone the King of kings and the Lord of lords?
Essentially that is what our inner beauty is meant to do, point others to the source of that beauty, our Creator. In dating, we can’t allow ourselves to get wrapped up in our outward appearance. This is actually a good way to test a man’s character. Is he interested in me because of how I look or does he also recognize the fruits of the Spirit in me? Does he even know what the fruits of the Spirit are?! (Uh oh). God cares about His daughters, and we could avoid unnecessary heartbreak by doing things His way. He really is the best wingman.