Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful that way and were good loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.
1 Peter 3: 4-6 (MSG)
Yesterday, it took me about 20 minutes to choose what to wear for office. As I was looking at myself through the mirror, thoughts came to mind if people would really appreciate what I will wear for the day.
For men, it will only take a few minutes to dress up but for women, some may take hours.
So now, let’s talk about beauty.
In today’s world, we are bombarded with products, wardrobe and fashion icons that will make us beautiful. In commercials, women with slim body, fair complexion and beautiful smile will show you that beauty focuses on the outward appearance. It’s as if the outer beauty is all that really matters. On the other hand, there are groups of women who feel so disconnected with the idea of being beautiful that they totally neglect themselves and instead, they believe inner beauty is the most important for it all. Though the bible says to cultivate inner beauty and the outward appearance is not all that really matters, my stand is that we should not neglect ourselves being beautiful, both inside and out. Why? Because we are not being beautiful for ourselves alone; we are being beautiful to reflect the image of God in us, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Beauty: What is it?
Your outer beauty may describe being physically appealing to both men and women alike — in the way you dress, how you carry yourself, the style of your hair and the jewelry you wear. In the webster dictionary, beauty is described as:
a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight
a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense
In appreciating outer beauty, your eyes decide that what you see is pleasant. However, when the inner beauty of a person appeals to you, your senses, emotions and intellect mostly gives you that happy satisfaction of one’s qualities. He/She may not be attractive to you, but deep inside, you know you wanted to spend another chunk of your time to get to know this person.
Worthy in God’s Sight
While reading the verses above, it struck me that Peter was telling the church inner beauty is what matters most. If you read up the verses before this, in Chapter 1 and 2, Peter was telling the church that as we are given a new life in Christ, we are called to be holy. If you go down next to Chapter 3, Peter started off with giving an advice to husbands and wives. For wives, particularly, outer beauty is not emphasized but the inner one. He goes on to the length of giving Sarah as an example of how a beautiful woman, wife and daughter we could be in the eyes of God.
Instead of choosing to cultivate the inner beauty only, I have decided to cultivate both my outer and inner beauty. As a child, I didn’t have the confidence that people will appreciate me. I was so insecure that even my social skills were not developed. When I would see strangers on the street just because I needed to buy something from the store, I would wait until that stranger passes through before I make a move.
Then growing up, I came to a point where my identity is lost. Questions resurfaced. Am I beautiful? Will people accept me for who I am? What can I offer the world?
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
All those fears — fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment — all these were replaced by divine beauty and unconditional love. That love is the love given by Jesus Christ.
How Do You Recognize that Inner Beauty?
If you have received that unconditional love, your beauty will reflect to show the world without you even making an effort. That is because the beauty you are carrying is not your own anymore, but the beauty of Christ — the beauty of forgiveness, of unconditional love, of irreplaceable joy. If we go back to the verse above, we will immediately know inner beauty by the following attributes:
- Gentle – Women may have different personalities and doesn’t mean that if one is gentle, she only speaks mildly to other people. You are being gentle when you are able to lead other women in inspiration and not discouragement. People will know because it will show in your actions and words.
- Gracious – I remember the quote that “Grace is something God gives us even when we don’t deserve it.” So here, being gracious means being able to extend that understanding, love and forgiveness even if the other person doesn’t deserve it. On the same way, it is able being able to ask for understanding, love and forgiveness even if we don’t deserve it.
- Loyal – This literally means showing strong support or allegiance. As a woman of inner beauty, you are able to show strong support to your friends, family and loved one, in whatever way to encourage them. This word is synonymous to being faithful, so being loyal would cover a long span of time.
- Caring – You have this characteristic if you are able to show genuine concern for other people. This is not just a one-time concern but a consistent display of love, and genuine interest to help the other person.
- Endearing – Dictionary defines this word as inspiring feelings of love and affection. In the above verse, I would focus on the fact that Sarah is not afraid to show and tell his husband words of endearment. As women who cultivate our inner beauty, are we also the ones who are not afraid to tell our friends, our family members and our significant other those words of love and affection? We may not know it, but sometimes, just a word of inspiration is what they need from us. So if we constantly practice being generous with our affection for other people, it may just change their lives and then our beauty will be reflected to the world.
- Unanxious – This word can be translated to faith. Are you full of faith? If we check Hebrews 11:1, faith means being sure of what you hope for and being certain of what you do not see. So cultivating that inner beauty means not worrying about the littlest things in life, but instead, putting our faith that everything will work out through well at the end. After all, it is said that “All things work together for those who love Him [God].”
- Unintimidated – Lastly, cultivating that inner beauty means not easily deterred by the problems of this world and by temptations. One word to relate to this could be being courageous. Are you courageous enough to fight for what you believe in? Are you undeterred to stand your ground even if you feel mocked by other people, especially if you know you are doing what is right?
I know, you may be thinking, I do not have that kind of beauty… yet. We are all a work in progress, and we will one day be perfect in God’s eyes. But just as Peter says, “Cultivate your inner beauty.” This doesn’t mean we’ll wait to become beautiful, but instead, let us become self-aware on how these attributes can become ours one day, allowing God’s love to work through us, each and every single day of our lives so people will see that incomparable beauty in us. 🙂