Every now and again I catch one of those shows on TV which feature women all decked to the nines, competing against each other for some Miss USA, Ms. Universe, or the like. It isn't often that I see those with the "truest" of beauty actually win in these events, though. The outward is dazzling, but I don't know that the inward "character" and "beauty" of the individuals who actually win these contests consistently measure up to the standard of "beauty" God has for his kids. These women can move across the stage in glamorous sashays and then dazzle us with their comments about world peace, dreams of saving the starving children in some third world country, or the like. Deep down inside, they are not "bad" people, but all the outward grace and beauty can actually fool us to what is really at the core of what it is which "drives" them. God is more concerned the with the "beauty" and "grace" which comes from a "right internal drive" than he is with the outward beauty and grace we can put on display for others to see.
Grace and beauty can fool you, but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 ERV)
Truthfully, if we were all to admit it, we somehow strive to have some form of outward grace and beauty - this is just part of human nature. We don't strive to be "ordinary" or "run-of-the-mill" - we actually comb our hair, put on a little make-up, select the best fitting outfit, and make our way out into the world hoping we have put our best "appearance" out there. Mom frequently asks me why I won't go out to get the newspaper on a Sunday morning before I take my shower. If you have ever seen my "bedhead" you will know the answer to that question! I am a little too vain to let my neighbors see me with my hair going this way and that! Now, my BFF on vacation, over a cup of coffee on a leisurely start to our morning - that is a different matter. We don't have to "dazzle" each other with our outer beauty, because we understand the "inner beauty" of each other already! A woman who respects the Lord is much to be desired. This is something I tried hard to impart into the lives of my own daughter and all of the teens I have worked with over the years. It isn't the outward fineries which make a woman, but the inward peace, joy, and rightness which comes from being in right-standing with God that comes through the loudest.
What are some of the most beautiful things we can display "in" our lives which come through the clearest on the "outside" of our lives? I think they may be:
- Gracefulness. This is not the gracefulness of being able to sashay across the dance floor in flawless motion, but rather the gentleness of kindness and depth of love which embraces the unlovely, forgives the unkind, and reaches out in compassion to the disloyal. We might equate gracefulness to the elegance of the beauties we see on the stage, but God equates it to the "beauties" he sees reaching for the lost, helping the infirm, and compassionately restoring the fallen.
- Truthfulness. We can put many an idea or philosophy on display in our lives, but all will come across as shallow and lacking in deeper meaning unless they are founded in the rock of Christ's love and truth. Philosophy is based on thought and investigation - regardless of whether it is thought into the truth or not. We can have many a life "philosophy" which is misdirected or awry, depending upon where it is we choose to investigate. When we are spending time in the Word of God, our basis of action and belief becomes solid because truth begets truth. Within those moments of introspective investigation into the truth of God's Word we find life-transforming truths which begin to "right" our thoughts and transition our focus from self to others and self to God himself.
- Gratefulness. Most of the world's gratitude is based upon the actions of another, not a condition of heart. In other words, when someone does something for us, we are grateful. When they neglect some action toward us, we are less than grateful - maybe even a little angered or hurt by their inaction. A heart of gratefulness is one which finds joy in the simple things, looks for the best in each circumstance and individual, and appreciates the many blessings one already has rather than constantly searching for those yet to be realized.
These aren't rocket science, my friends, but they are significant enough to God that he enjoys seeing these "beauties" on display in our lives over and over again. These are just three of the "adornments" he provides in our lives which give us rich character, deeply rooted in his love, grace, and peace. Just sayin!