True Beauty

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isaiah 53:2

Yet we are called to desire this God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our souls. It is a very difficult thing to direct all of our being to desire someone who does not, at first appearance, seem to be attractive to us. We are raised this way in our society, to desire the appearance, to look at the externals first, and then judge whether they are someone worthy of our affection.

We are constantly consumed with how we represent ourselves to others and to the mirror. We judge our acceptability based upon that reflection. If we appear externally unattractive, then we judge ourselves to be so. Yet if one feels confident in his or her external appearance, then they have a forgetfulness about how their internal appearance is. If the external brings a return, than what is the use in investing in the internal person of the heart?

Christ is called to be our object of all our delight, yet if he were to appear to us today we would look at him like we look at a distorted burn victim, or someone who has been maimed. As Jesus, after the resurrection, said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27). Wounds: the things that make a person the most uncomely of objects of attraction to the eyes of this world. Yet these wounds are the greatest display of beauty in the universe. Here we are called to place our hands in to the wounds of Christ, to feel beauty. We are confronted with all our vain notions of what true beauty is. Christ laid aside all his glory that he had with the Father before his incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8). If one were to look on that glory, they would be ravished for all eternity, not even coming close for the flick of a moment to even considering to desire to look at anything else. But Christ laid aside this glory in order to show us true glory. He became to us unattractive, ‘normal’ – if you will. And he was robbed of even this. His face beaten, his body ravaged, for the sake of love to us, to show us what is worthy of all our affection and joy and delight. This should raise our hearts against every vain and sickening notion of what is appealing that this world puts out at us. It is no wonder that Peter calls women, who are often terribly influence by men, to not make themselves attractive merely externally. This should not simply be a call to women, as in their day, but also to men, in our day. All of us have become consumed in how we present ourselves to this world.

Peter calls the woman to adorn themselves especially with two characteristics that were most poignantly noted of Christ in his death crucifixion: gentle and quiet spirit: as shown by Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” A sheep is noted for its gentleness, and the quietness is like Christ’s: which Peter shows us is very precious in God’s sight. These are not simply to be the adorning of women, since Christ perfectly displayed them, but they are especially and distinctly to be the adorning of women. And the sight of God here is to be juxtaposed with the sight of men. Though men may only see the external appearance such as “braided hair and jewelry” (we should insert our current infatuations here), it is not the sight of man that people are to be consumed with. When God looks on you, he is not concerned with your external adornment. When looks on you and sees “quietness and gentleness” he sees beauty. In whose eyes, then, are we striving to look beautiful in?

For us then, to learn what is truly beautiful, we must look at the cross, and place our hands in the wounds where the blood was shed that bought us from death and purchased our life. If we cannot find beauty there, we will not see beauty anywhere else in the world. We will only know a paltry notion of what true beauty is.


2 thoughts on “True Beauty

  1. Correct me if you think I am wrong here, but on of the problems with beauty as it is presented to us in this world is that it breeds such discontent… beauty in the media makes us want to be thinner, better dressed, it locks us into a consumeristic mindset that makes us want to buy our way to happiness through better clothes and thinner bodies. These give the illusion of acceptence and happiness.

    But if you look upon the true beauty of the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world, you find peace, acceptance, and happiness in the truest sense. This beauty calls us to look deeper and more intently though and most of us just don’t take the time to do that.

  2. moving words nate, you should think about putting something together for high school ministry regarding beauty, and its relationship to fashion, clothing, make-up, jewelry, etc… Piper has a great sermon on this during his marriage series, i think it is the first or second sermon in the series. To be able to articulate and communicate effectively a Biblical theology of beauty and its practical outworkings could produce some wonderful fruit in your ministry especially to the young women who are so prone to our popular cultural dogma, and it could be an effective guide to young men in their search for beauty to “have and to hold”

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