Tuesday, 13 August 2013

What does it mean to be beautiful?

What does it mean to be beautiful, both in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God? Through some study and meditation, I believe there are three ingredients to true beauty: Holiness, Righteousness and Humility, otherwise known as purity, integrity and modesty.
True beauty is discovered when one realizes their identity and value in Jesus Christ. When one is sure of their identity, and builds their life on that unshakable foundation, one has a confidence that shines. When you know who you are, and when you see yourself as God sees you, you are truly beautiful!
Every human being has value — value as a human being, a creation of God. This intrinsic value is not based on what we’ve done or said, or what others think of us or assign to us. It’s just there. Just because God made you, you are valuable! Every believer has value — value as a child of God. He chose you, He saved you — obviously there is value in you, or else why would He have sacrificed so much for you? We were created for a specific purpose and a specific function. We are valuable and beautiful, because God made us that way. He declared us “good”!
The first ingredient of beauty is purity. True beauty shines pure. Emotional, verbal, physical, sexual and spiritual purity are required to have true, God-given beauty. Purity is an ingredient of beauty as it reflects God’s holiness. We are called to be holy as God is holy. Our body and mind is a temple of the Holy Spirit,  and as such should be treated with respect. We can’t sully our bodies with abuse of drugs, laziness or  over-indulgence. We can’t poison our minds with negativity and bitterness, pornography and violence, or humanistic philosophies. And we can’t defile our spirits with chasing after things of this world rather than “living in the light of eternity,” as the song says.
Holiness is the ultimate purity. It is more than just cleanliness, it is sanctification. We are cleansed of “all unrighteousness” and therefore blameless before God. We are to present ourselves as living sacrifices in worship to God. How can we do that without being holy? And this is a very doable thing: If it were not, God would not require it of us. He is incapable of leading into temptation, but instead He “delivers us from evil.” He promised that there would be no temptation too strong for us to bear,  and that there would always be a way out. We are called to be pure. As purity flows through our lives, we shine with God’s beauty, and become truly beautiful.
The second ingredient of beauty is integrity. True beauty shines real. Our actions must match our beliefs and attitudes. Integrity is an ingredient of beauty as it reflects God’s righteousness. We are called to live rightly as God is righteous. Do we say we believe one thing, and then act differently? Do our mouths spout off platitudes of discipline and devotion to our friends or on our blogs, but if people were to observe our days, the majority of them is spent in front of a computer screen, ignoring the things (or people!) screaming for our attention.  Our appearances must match our heart, and we need to be real!
Honesty is a major part here. We need to be honest with ourselves and with others. God looks at the heart and He knows what we really believe, no matter how much we try to deny or fake it. And no matter how much you try to fake it, it will show. People can sense when someone is being fake. You can come across as fake, even if you don’t mean to, because we can be really good at lying to ourselves. If we will be honest, God can lead us to be righteous. It is a commandment not to lie, and to live a lie is a sin against God’s righteousness.
Integrity and righteousness go hand in hand. The Bride of Christ will be clothed in “linen of righteousness”. Righteousness is not merely “good deeds” but the willingness to live rightly with God, the genuine desire to obey. Integrity is a part of someone’s character, not just their behaviour. In being righteous, and godly, we are genuine in seeking His kingdom, not our own whims and wants.
The third ingredient of beauty is modesty. This may seem strange, that true beauty is modest. But its true. Modesty shines as Jesus shone. God is a gentleman, and true beauty requires this gentle Spirit. We are called to live humbly, meekly, with modesty. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Gentle spirits and modesty do not mean weak. Humility is not weakness. It takes more strength to stand firm, unresisting, fighting the urge of fight or flight, than to react to provocation. Jesus was a meek man, but no one would have called him a weak man. His anger cleared the temple. His strength so impressed the captain of the Roman guard, that upon Jesus’ death, the captain declared that he must have been the son of God. Modesty is a strength that comes from our confidence in God. Modesty is uncomplaining, gives rather than demands, serves rather than commands, and gives up the need to control others. It is self-control, not arrogance.  Modesty comes from a confidence in who we are and how much we’re worth, so that we don’t need to flaunt our assets or prove our attractions.
When one thinks of modesty, one thinks of modest dress. Modesty has more to do with attitude than appearance. Women can be covered from neck to toe, and be more provocatively dressed than a woman dressed in more skin-revealing clothes with an attitude of modesty. Modesty has a confidence that has no need to flaunt or embellish. We are called to be modest as it reflects God’s love. Love has no need of boasting in itself. Love is genuine, aware of others’ opinions, but not willing to bend to peer pressure. Modesty in love leads rather than follows.
Modesty is a form of humility. Modest beauty knows who really is deserving of all the credit — God! Modesty gives all glory to God. After all, we did nothing to create the face, body, talents or skills we may be gifted with.  True beauty is modest, and a reflection of God’s glory. Modesty is an attitude of service, service for the sake of serving God and others, and not for any reward. It is service done in secret, and letting God reward them. Modesty shares, and is generous, not self-serving.  It is a respect for others, and a respect for oneself.
Beauty is found in confidence in God. When we know the value God placed on us, how can we devalue ourselves? How can we declare “ugly” and “worthless” what God declared “good” and “very good”, and worth the biggest price: the sacrifice of His Own Son?  To do that, calls God a liar. We can be secure in His love. Believe it, young lady. Rely on it, young man. God loves YOU! He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And because He loves you, you can be confident that there is nothing you need to enhance, to dress up, to prove, to give away, or to flaunt in order to demonstrate that you are beautiful, to get the attention every human being craves. God loves you because He made you. And that’s all you need to know. True beauty shines out of this confidence, reflected through purity, modest and integrity. May we all be beautiful in the sight of God.

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