“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5
Oh, the things we go through to be beautiful—plucking, waxing, brushing, gelling, coloring, brightening, concealing… I realize these things aren’t bad in themselves (and I am not advocating neglecting our appearance) but it doesn’t take much to become a little too obsessed and overly critical of the way we look. I’ve been convicted recently of spending a bit too much time behind the mirror fighting the signs of… ummm, maturity.
I find that it’s easy to lose focus and start to compare myself with the young, beautiful, godly women around me instead of loving them for the beautiful image bearers that God has created them to be. I become too focused on myself to look out for their interests (Phil 2:3-4) or to share the hard-earned insights that I’ve gained over the years (Titus 2:3-5). I lose focus. I start to neglect the health of my inner person and my definition of beauty becomes marred and twisted to fit the world’s standards. I forget that it is His beauty that I should be obsessed with (Ps 27:4) and that true beauty extends from Him and is made beautiful by Him.
One of my favorite (and in my opinion one of the most beautiful) scenes in Scripture is when the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume anoints Jesus with love and adoration. Luke 7:36-50 tells the story:
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
It must have taken great courage for her to knock on that door. Of all the houses that Jesus could have been at that night—he was, after all, known for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes—it was at Simon the Pharisee’s home. What a surprise that they actually let her enter! Here she came with her treasure of perfume in her hand, entering into a house full of religious people. I’m sure she felt every eye on her, some full of contempt, others of confusion, others maybe even pity. But Jesus’ eyes—full of love and understanding. She knelt at his feet, blinded by her tears, and opened the bottle of perfume. He looked at her as he spoke about her and to her, but more than that, he saw her. He saw her heart full of gratitude, love and worship; it must have been utterly beautiful.
The beauty of this red-faced, puffy-eyed, weeping woman (because we all know this wasn’t the Hollywood-pretty-cry where the woman just kind of leaks from her eyes and tries to look sad) who was kissing the feet of her Savior strikes a note deep in me. It makes me rethink my definition of beauty. Some of the most beautiful people I have ever met are women in their later years who, after hard years of loving and serving others, are still being renewed daily in their inner person (2 Cor 4:16). They display the most beautiful “gentle and quiet” spirits that loudly testify of hearts that know, love, and trust Jesus (1 Pet 3:3-4). Just to be in their presence is to smell the beautiful fragrance of Christ (2 Cor 2:14-15). I want to be a woman who strives for that kind of imperishable beauty, not the fleeting counterfeit beauty of this world.
So what are some ways that we as women of God can cultivate the type of beauty that reflects and pleases our Creator? Who is the most beautiful woman you know?
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Prov 31:30)
Post also found at my friend’s great blog for single women, Our Single Purpose: Beautiful Things