We live in a culture where sex and being sexy are relational currencies. Sexy and beautiful people win the contests, they get the attention, and they are the ones that sports announcers go gaga over. (Really, Brent?)
If you want to succeed or be famous, you’d better be either really smart or really pretty. Of course, from time to time, the not-so-pretty can be applauded, but nobody has a poster of an ugly man or woman on their wall or uses his or her picture as a screensaver on their computer.
Physical beauty can literally be money in the bank (Angelina Jolie’s net worth is $120 million), and in our world, it’s also relational currency—it gives someone social value.
But what if our true value has nothing to do with the image we see in the mirror?
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Beauty is only skin deep.” In a moment of rational thought, we all would agree that it’s important to be beautiful on the inside, not just the outside. But more often than not, we irrationally accept the Victoria’s Secret commercials as the standard of beauty. We aspire to be just like them: Tall, skinny, wrinkle and blemish-free, and with hair to die for.
But what if we saw others and ourselves from a different perspective?
The other day I saw a Facebook picture of one of my friends. She was smiling, and she was beautiful. (Frankly, I also saw more of her breasts than I needed to see.) Here’s what struck me—I know for a fact that she is hurting, deeply wounded, and though she was smiling on the outside, her soul is tragically damaged.
Most would look at the same picture and see someone to be envied or desired. I looked, and what I saw broke my heart.
What Jesus sees is what drove Him to the cross.
I am not advocating for ugliness. I’m not saying that physical beauty is meaningless. I am, however, challenging a belief system that puts physical beauty above what really matters.
King Solomon, who had a beautiful mother (Bathsheba) and quite a few beautiful wives, once wrote this gem of wisdom in Proverbs 31:30 (NIRV) “Charm can fool you. Beauty fades. But a woman who has respect for the Lord should be praised.”
What? Beauty fades? Shocking! And true.
Eventually, age and gravity win. You can nip and tuck all you want, but sooner or later, the person staring back at you from the bathroom mirror will be old and far from stunning. And if your value comes only from an outward beauty, then that relational currency will leave you bankrupt and feeling pretty miserable in the end.
However, if you are a man or woman who has loved God and loved people—that beauty lasts forever. If you are a person who lives and walks in grace—that makes you stunning to the day you take your last breath. If you are someone whose soul is whole—that is a beautiful person who should be praised.
Go ahead, be beautiful (it’s okay), but most of all, be beautiful where it really counts.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Kurt Bubna