Today as I was just having a good time in the salon, I decided to ‘swipe’ my bible and do a few reflections, I got to a beautiful Psalm 139- I couldn’t help but marvel on verse 13-14 ‘ for you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; my souls knows it very well.’ Wow! Wait a minute, those words I didn’t just see them as I always do on daily basis, and this was just deep. A craftsman medieval times would work for months on a special piece that displayed his finest artistic skill. The work would be referred to as his masterpiece. In psalm 139 we see God the master craftsman, lovingly working on his masterpiece. This psalm can have a profound impact on how we feel about ourselves, at that moment this feeling got real to me, I felt it.
Stop a minute and just imagine when people say “she is beautiful” what does it really mean? I find it sad that culture and mass media have hijacked the authentic definition of beauty. So who is defining beauty? Is beauty the definition we have from the world or is it just as God defines it?
In that reflective mood I was narrating an exciting story to one of the persons I enjoy camaraderie with I asked him to help me define beauty: he told me beauty is worship! I thought again, worship vs. beauty? He explained that beauty is what God made, it’s the brokenness of the heart that allows us to worship the Lord. Quite profound I thought. So where do I stand, in the most fertile time and in the festivity mood (this could explain why I was in the salon, eheh), personally I wouldn’t mind a change of hairstyle, perhaps a new neckpiece and so on. Why? To look more beautiful??!
I quickly remember Paul, he instructed the women to clothe themselves in “respectable apparel.” Mmmh…respectable vs. the make-ups, the golden pieces, the weaves, the braided hair? Which is which, were do we draw the line to be respectable? Now let me set your mind at ease. Adorning ourselves in “respectable apparel” doesn’t mean we must restrict ourselves exclusively to cheap, out of style, unattractive clothing. Paul is not saying that gold or pearls or braiding are forbidden. In fact, you will find other places in Scripture where godly women wore fine clothing and jewelry. For example, the Proverbs 31 woman – who is put forth in the Bible as a model for biblical womanhood – wore colorful, high-quality clothing (Proverbs 31:22). We read where the bride in Song of Solomon adorned her appearance with jewelry (Song of Solomon 1:10). We are told that Esther underwent 12 months of beauty treatments – 6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 with perfumes and cosmetics (Esther 2:12 ).
So we are not to take this verse to mean that godly women should try as hard as they can to be out of style and unattractive. No! Quite the opposite. God is the creator of beauty. God delights in beauty. All we need to verify this fact is to consider the beauty He created all around us: whether it is an elegant flower, or towering trees, or a meandering river, or billowy clouds or the majestic night sky. Every time we stop to take in one of these breathtaking scenes on display in God’s creation, we can’t help but be convinced that He delights in beauty!
And because we are created in the image of our Creator, each of us has this propensity to make things beautiful. That means, when we decorate our homes, or plant a lovely flower garden, or seek to add some form of beauty to our surroundings, even when we attempt to enhance our personal appearance – we are actually imitating and delighting in the works of our Great Creator.
Now hopefully, we have convincing proof that our desire to enhance our appearance isn’t wrong (at least I find no guilt in doing my hair), that “respectable apparel” does not have to be dowdy or out of style. So what exactly does Paul mean by “respectable apparel”? just like I was told, it’s about something more to just what we see-it’s about a broken spirit, this takes me close to Gordon’s ‘ordering your private world’ that our inner selves harbor in the grounds of our piety and worship to God, but Gordon warns us of how we have neglected our private worlds, in other words, we have neglected the original beauty!
The original beauty is that secret place where no-one can see, only we can know its state of disorderliness, it is from where our worship to God thrives. It should therefore be our first source of concern, where most of our attention is.
So, the question for us is this: Who are we seeking to imitate or be like when we address our beauty? Who inspires our wardrobe? Are we preoccupied with looking like the latest American Idol winner or the actresses and music stars on magazine covers, or that lady next door? I often see the innumerable make-up stories, I’m surprised we haven’t all been “made over” by now! God already made us whole, we need no further making. That is why Paul’s message is urgent-not just for the original recipients of his letter, but for us today. He doesn’t want the women in the church looking exactly like the ungodly, seductive women in the world. Women in the church are to be different from the world. We should be stand-outs, not because of our revealing clothing, but because of our distinctly modest heart and dress.
The most beautiful look you can have as a woman of God is a humble, modest, innocent, meek, kept up, and gentle look.
You know why this is more beautiful? The reason why Is because beauty comes not only from physical modifications, but also from “perceived” character! If your “look” makes you “look like” a humble, quiet, and meek person, well isnt “meek, humble, and quiet” beautiful characteristics? then that adds on to your overall “perceived” beauty!
We are supposed to define beauty! So help us God.