I’m going to address half of our population here. I had the opportunity to share this message a little while ago with the youth group girls at a wonderful church I have had the blessing of being a part of, so please bear with me, men this is mostly aimed at women. If you dare read on, perhaps you will think more about what true beauty is, and look for ways to speak words of wisdom and encouragement into your daughters, wife, or girlfriend, mom, etc, Here we go…
So, what do you do, or have you done to make yourself beautiful?
What is the longest time that you’ve spent preparing yourself to look beautiful? What was it for? Prom? Homecoming? A date?
The longest time I ever spent getting ready to look good was for my wedding. That started sometime in the morning of my wedding day. I curled my hair, used hair spray, actually wore make-up, and squeezed my dress on with ribbons that laced all the way up the back, and wore the most expensive dress I think I will ever wear. I typically brush my hair to get ready for a normal day, but this was a very special occasion. I wanted to look great for my soon-to-be husband, Juan. I got so caught up in all of the preparations to look great that my shoes were forgotten and I ended up getting married barefoot in the KidZone part of Church.
The Bible beats my all-day beauty preparation story with the story of Esther. She would spend a year in beautification treatments. Here is her story. She was a Jewish orphan girl adopted by her cousin Mordecai. She lived somewhere around 480 BC. After the Persian King of that time, Xerxes, expelled his old wife for disobedience to him, he started a nationwide search for a new wife. He had all of the most beautiful virgins in the land gathered together from which to select a queen. Esther was amongst the girls chosen to be considered, and all of these girls began a yearlong beautification process so they’d be ready for their “first date” with the king.
12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines.
Now this is not exactly a romance story. It seems that after the night with the king, the girl would be then taken to a different part of the harem and considered a concubine, or second-class wife. But Esther pleased the king, and she became queen over the country that was oppressing her and her people, and had very likely killed some of her family. She did not have a say over her situation, but she lived with integrity in the situation she found herself in. If you read the story further, you will see her dedication to her people and how she risked her life to save the Jewish people from being slaughtered. In reality, though it says she was very beautiful, she was not remembered for her beauty, but for her bravery and selfless act–for character and dedication to God.
Though we probably don’t have year-long beauty processes, we do some crazy things to be beautiful. But what is really important? Have you ever thought about what God thinks beauty looks like?
1 Peter 3:3-4
3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 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 Timothy 2:9-10
9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
This deals with our character. You can look at the fruit of the Spirit, these are also what God sees as good character.
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Do you find friends based on how beautiful they are? Or do you choose them because of their character? I think most of us will choose friends based on how they treat us, not on appearances.
Esther was treated in oil of myrrh and in perfumes over a long period of time to prepare herself physically–for all of the treatments to soak in and become a part of her. We can treat ourselves with the word of God to make ourselves spiritually beautiful. What that really means is spending time reading God’s word. That is how we are changed inside out.
At one point as a young adult, I started taking more care to do my hair and wear make-up before I set off to work. After a while I noticed I had a lot less time in reading my Bible before work, and I was really missing my quiet time with God. Eventually, I had to choose which was more important–looking good or spending time with God. I stopped worrying as much about how I looked and decided to spend my time with God, and I have not regretted that choice.
That doesn’t mean you can’t spend time looking nice! Just make sure that you spend most of your time being beautiful inside. This won’t be seen on social media. It will be seen by those who know you, and those who see you interacting with others. And your inner beauty will be seen by God.
Some of you may be really struggling with this topic of beauty. For me, I really did not look forward to this night, because I don’t identify with doing nails or trying to look amazing. I don’t fit in with a lot of “girly” girl things. I like construction which is typically a field led by men, and I like thinking deep thoughts and writing. I don’t want any of you to think that you are less of a woman for not feeling like you fit into a night like this.
Just as an example of other awesome women in the Bible, I would like to mention one of my personal favorite passages, which occurred around 40 years after Queen Esther’s story. It happens in the book of Nehemiah during the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s city walls.
Nehemiah 3:12 tells us:
Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.
Those daughters were the only women mentioned in all of the huge undertaking of the repair of the wall of Jerusalem. That was very hard labor. I love that!
Some of you might feel like you need to put in a lot of work to be beautiful, or maybe that you will never meet the standard. The good thing about God’s definition of what we should be is that it’s all about character, not what we like to do or even our outward appearances. True beauty really does come from within.
So, let’s work on being spiritually beautiful women of God!
Father, help us, your children, to care about what you care about, to see others through the eyes of love and not through judgement. Help us to understand that you made us beautiful to you in your eyes. Help us to grow in the things that make us spiritually attractive and make us a good friend to others, and a truly beautiful person inside and out. Amen.
By Maureen Silveyra 3/2022