She had the face that could launch a thousand ships according to the Greek poet, Homer. She was the sole reason that the Greeks and Trojans went to war. Her name was Helen of Troy. Her beauty was so legendary that it is still referenced today. No one knows what she looked like, but surely she was one of the most physically beautiful women that had ever lived. In the Bible we find a different result from being beautiful in God’s eyes. We find a beauty that may not cause international strife, but definitely changes the world.
Biblical beauty is rare. There is a reason men do not ask women to marry them while holding out a pebble attached to tin foil with super glue. To let a woman know how special she is to him, he purchases a ring made from precious metals and rare jewels. A beautiful Christian woman is a rare thing as well. Proverbs 31:10 tells us, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” (ESV). The traits that are listed in the following verses tell us what the Lord finds beautiful in a woman. Read through the rest of the chapter, and see if you don’t agree that a woman who fits this description is very rare indeed.
Biblical beauty is constant. From the times of the Middle Ages until the late 1800’s what was considered beautiful in western civilizations were women who were very pale with skin that was almost translucent, but during the industrial revolution the trend changed and tanned skin became the mark of true beauty. So what happened? Pale skin was considered beautiful because the working classes during that time labored outdoors exposing their skin to the sun and elements. Pale skin, therefore, equaled a wealthy woman. When industry took the place of farming for the working class, the poor began to be pale since they were now indoors all the time doing menial work in factories, so the rich took to spending their free time outdoors. Now being tan meant that you were rich. Even in my lifetime what is considered beautiful has changed drastically.
God’s standard for beauty has never altered from the opening chapters of Genesis to the close of Revelation. We can read lists of the characteristics that should define all followers of God, such as the fruits of the Spirit or the Beatitudes. God doesn’t leave women in the dark about what He sees as beautiful in His daughters. Proverbs 31:30 tells us that “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” and 1 Peter 3:4holds up the standard of a “gentle and quiet spirit” as beautiful. Don’t focus on the latest beauty trends; focus on God’s constant standard in your life.
Biblical beauty is inspiring. The Bible doesn’t mention the appearance of most Biblical characters with rare exceptions. Two women who immediately come to mind as being physically beautiful are Sarah and Esther. Sarah was so beautiful that even as an older woman Abraham feared that Pharaoh would take her as his wife (Genesis 12:10-20), and Esther’s beauty was so awe-inspiring that she captured the eye of the most powerful king in the world at that time, Xerxes (Esther 2:5-18). However, in both of these cases God does not honor these women for their physical beauty, but for their spiritual beauty. Sarah is listed in Hebrews 11:11 along with other men and women in the Faith Hall of Fame, and Esther’s faith in God and courage allowed her to save the entire Jewish nation in Persia (Esther 9:12-13).
When we look at these beautiful women, do we immediately focus on their physical beauty? No, we do not, because God’s word does not. The beauty of both of these women is merely mentioned in passing in scripture while the bulk of their stories is about the testing of their faith and their victory in God. This should be a huge sign to us today. God wants us to be inspired by the spiritual beauty we find in women, not their physical beauty, which carries over to our lives. Others should be inspired by our spiritual beauty, not what we look like.
As all of us know, we live in a world obsessed with the physical, but as women of God we are called to be different. One of the ways that our lights can shine the brightest is to take the time to develop our spiritual beauty over our physical. A quick test to see if you are focused on the right thing is to ask yourself, “How long does it take me to get dressed up to go out on a fancy date with my husband or to a special event? Do I spend that much time or more in Bible study and prayer every day?” My answer to the first question would be about an hour from start to finish. My answer to the second would be a resounding no. I’m working on it, and I challenge you to work on it too. An hour spent becoming as physically beautiful as possible will never have the same impact that an hour focused on my spiritual beauty will. The first will never be of much account; the second, however, could very well change the world.
This article was originally posted on February 10, 2014
by Chelli Guthrie
Chelli and her husband, Luke, work with the Abell St. church of Christ in Wharton, Texas, where Luke is the pulpit minister. Chelli teaches the Jr. High class on Sunday mornings and leads the Children’s Bible Hour program on Sunday nights. She is a full-time mom who homeschools their three children: Grace (8), Sophia (4), and Levi (2). Her blog is www.theplantedtrees.blogspot.com.