Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What is Beauty? Part 1

We live in a culture that is obsessed with image, and every day we are bombarded with advertisements promising to deliver beauty and happiness. For many of us, it is a daily struggle to leave the house content because of the constant anxiety we feel over looking “beautiful enough.” With all of the hype surrounding being beautiful, we must ask ourselves—what exactly is beauty? Every day we are faced with a choice, will we choose worldly beauty, defined by fashion magazines and the culture? Or will we choose godly beauty, defined by the perfect, holy words of our God?

In the next week (or so), my prayer is that we would be able to look at godly beauty through God’s eyes. Today, I want to lay a framework and in the next few days I will write about what the Bible says we should seek regarding beauty.

First, we know that there were beautiful women in the Bible. God is not silent on beauty. Being beautiful is not a sin, but, for example, if Esther had sought her own gain and refused to help her people, her beauty would have meant nothing. And though Sarah was beautiful, she probably would have traded her beauty for a baby. Beauty does not buy happiness, nor does it save you.

Everything around us is a reminder that we cannot trust in external beauty. All of us will be subject to the natural process of aging. And even in our youthfulness, we could all probably attest to the fact that many times our daily date with the mirror leaves much to be desired.

As women there is no arguing that we want to be beautiful. It is a gift, and I will be the first to admit that I enjoy styling my hair, putting on makeup, and picking out an outfit every morning. But I also must recognize that if my hope is in my $40 straightener and my Great Lash mascara, I will be disappointed and discontent every time. There is a healthy balance between being feminine and making the products of femininity an idol.

For many of us we know that leaving the house everyday can be a big struggle because we are faced with a barrage of self-criticism and comparison to others around us. For others, we know that when we walk into a group of women our first reaction is to judge the beauty of those around us, even to the point of gossip—“did you see what she was wearing?” We must repent of both of those things.

Unless we see that all of our comparisons and self-criticisms are fundamentally pride and unbelief in God, we will spend our entire lives never feeling good enough—and that is a worldview that will ultimately lead us to death. The fact that some women bury themselves in a sea of credit card debt just to buy the newest designer style, is fundamentally saying that “God is not really God, He is not sufficient to meet my needs.” The fact that some women spend the wee hours of the morning hugging a cold toilet after forcing themselves to throw up, is fundamentally saying “God does not meet my needs, and He is not sovereign over my weight.” Obsession with image, no matter how detrimental it is to your health or well being, is a form of pride and self worship—just like all of our disbelief is pride and self worship.

We can, and should, recognize beautiful, modest, godly women when see them. But we should not bank on those affirmations in our own life. And, most importantly, our characterization of beauty must not come from the latest InStyle magazine.

If the Lord allows us to live that long, when we are 80 years old no one will remember the face of our 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s. All they will see is the wrinkled face of a woman nearing her last. As we prepare to meet our Savior, no amount of Botox or fad-diet will prepare us for our final breath. Only a life spent pouring over the mirror of God’s Word will prepare us for that glorious day.

It’s really easy to pay lip-service to the truths of the Bible, yet still live in constant anxiety and unbelief. The fight of faith is hard, and this is not any different. If you feel yourself struggling with true beauty versus worldly beauty, ask God to reveal the areas in your life that need to be changed. Preach the Gospel to yourself daily. If you find yourself anxious about how you look in the morning, proclaim Christ to your wayward heart. Do not choose bondage to the world’s ideals any longer—choose life in Christ. So let us not be ashamed to recognize true beauty as we see it, but let us also put our hope in Jesus blood and righteousness, lest we think on that final day that it’s our trendy outfit and size 2 body that will save us.


steph said...

Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Courtney! I can't wait to see you tonight!!!! Let's talk tonight about this!!

Love, steph

sonja said...

Courtney, You are shooting to the heart of the matter. Keep developing this. My Mom always told us to fix ourselves in the morning, take the last look in the mirror and not look back.

You state that self-criticism is fundamentally pride and unbelief. Tho I have believed this for years how would you bring someone to understand this.....as this idea is an afrount to today's thought even 'Christian' thought? Maybe this is a discussion for a blog all by itself. :) Sonja

cdt said...


Thank you so much for your insightful comment from your mom. She is a very dear, sweet woman!

I think I should probably identify self-criticism in the form of self-pity. While I think that we all should have a healthy sense of ourselves through self-examination, I do think that excessive introspection is pride and unbelief. That said, obession with our outward appearance, and worrying and pitying ourselves over the way we look, is thinking more highly of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3), although we would never really think of it that way. Self pity is pride, it just manifests itself in a way that is not always considered pride by the culture. Obession over our appearance is also unbelief in the promises of God that He truly is enough to satisfy us. We don't believe that Jesus is better than any affirmation about our appearance, and so we seek to look "good enough". We also don't trust that God is sovereign over how we look. He made us to look the way we do, therefore stressing out over our appearance is really stressing out over the way God made us.

Does that make sense? You're right, it probably is a blog post in itself. :)

Great to hear from you!

Ebony said...

Yes Yes Yes! These are so importand to address keep it up. Well Done and God Bless you

Alison alleyadam@hotmail.com said...

Hello, I am struggling with my looks so much and I have my whole life.. I have been through overeating, undereating, anorexia..and now at a normal weight but still stuck in envying others beauty, comparing myself, judging others, and addictions. I read your blog and its pretty much everything I'm struggling with and have been convicted by lately.. like how comparing myself to other girls is pretty much telling God how I hate his creation and wish I was someone else.. anyways..

I have a question about this:

"If you find yourself anxious about how you look in the morning, proclaim Christ to your wayward heart"

What do you mean by this?! Because I find myself so distracted in every way by sin..that I just run from God instead of seeking help from him. I guess what I am asking is What do you preach to yourself in the morning if I may ask?

Please email me back if you can!