Summer can be the worst of time for women, swimsuits and tan lines, beaches crowded with people; we can’t help but compare ourselves, surrounded by so many seeming opportunities.
We carry our opinions about beauty, shaped by what culture tells us. We also know the self-deprecating thoughts it leads to and how we succumb to envy, idolatry and despair because of it.
Trillia Newbell reminds us, “if beauty as the world defines it is all that there is to strive for, then we’re all in for quite a disappointing end of life.” The fact remains that our bodies will continue to shift and change as we age and go through life; in the end, they will return to dust.
So if our comfort and striving depends upon the truths of the world, we are in for a sad ending.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
There is a better definition of beauty.
A better way of seeing.
And it begins with God.
A Beautiful Creator
When I think about the Lord, beauty is not usually one of the first words I use to describe him; majestic, sovereign, just, faithful, forgiving…but beautiful?
I wonder if it’s the very definition of beauty, so muddled up by the world, that tells me beauty is fashionable, attractive, molded into a ‘right’ shape, smoothed into perfect skin tones, without blemishes or marks. It’s an advertised, outward ideal drawing us to a worldly idolatry, rather than the Creator of beauty, the One who paints the sunrise and crafts the majestic landscapes we view.
“One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).
“Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Psalm 96:6).
If our definition of beauty is formed by the Word of God, the standard of measurement is his holiness, righteousness and faithfulness. It’s his attributes, his glory that give rise to true beauty.
Maybe now you feel like the bar has been raised too high.
A New Way of Seeing
The way we perceive beauty needs to be transformed, because, “the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). We may balk at the idea of inner beauty, as if it’s a consolation prize, but it’s no second-rate award.
Redeemed of our sin, rescued from the pit of condemnation, free to live a life that loves and follows Christ, defining our life by the truths found in the Word of God, our lives-by the power of the Spirit-are being transformed into his likeness.
His beautiful likeness.
It’s a work established in grace and carried on by his mercy, as we follow in obedience; surrendering our wayward thoughts, which clutch beauty as defined by the world, and transforming the way we see, both ourselves and others.
It’s the journey for every believer that “our inner self is being renewed day by day” (1 Cor 4:16) with an eternal promise and hope when everything-including our bodies-will be made new again.
So, how have you let the world teach you about beauty?
How can we grow in seeing ourselves, and others, through the lens of the beauty God gives us as he makes us more like him?