Beauty and the Bible – Part 2

This blog post follows on from last week’s post which discussed the heart of beauty. This week we look at three Bible verses for what we can learn about physical beauty and how Jesus models an approach for us.

1. Physical beauty is fleeting.

Bible Verse: Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. (1 Timothy 4:8)

Take Away: The Bible is clear that our physical bodies, in their current state, are only temporary. But do we live like that? Do we approach our physical bodies with more attention than they should deserve? How do we talk about our physical body with our kids and others? Questions to think through:

  • Do they hear us talk about always wanting to lose weight?
  • Do they hear us moan about being too fat?
  • Do they see us prioritize the gym more than other things (reading, bible studies, family time)?

It is right for us to be good stewards of the body God has given us, because it enables us better to seek his kingdom and his righteousness. But we can easily fall into thinking more highly (or lowly) of the physical body. One small way I have tried to be conscious of this is to talk about being healthy rather than about being the right size. So I go to the gym so that I can be healthy. I (try to) choose carrot sticks over chips because I want to be healthy. Of course my motives are mixed, but these small verbal phrases can help us and our kids rightly think through the place of our physical body with relation to our spiritual body.

2. God will provide for us materially.

Bible Verse: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)

Take Away: As the catalogs floods our mailbox, it can easily fuel our obsession for something more. Those new boots, or the new pair of jeans surely will make life better. We send more worthwhile clothes to Goodwill then any generation before us – just because they were last year’s trend. We are on a hunt for something better, something new, something that will make us stand out, or that will give us a sense of identity, or make us feel like we fit in.

We spend a decent amount of energy thinking through what we wear, contemplating how it will look and what it impression it will make. [About a year ago I was challenged by friend to wear the same outfit two days in a row. You can read here about a few things I learned about myself in the process. It was good for me.] Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to gauge our hearts when it comes to what we wear.

  • What does the energy we put into our clothes say about what we value?
  • Do we think having the right clothes will make us more acceptable?
  • Do we think we need to provide for ourselves?

These verses in Matthew remind us that God clothes the flowers, and he cares far more about us his children than he does the flowers, so surely we can trust that he will give us what we need. Our first priority should be to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness and trust that he will take care of what we need, both spiritually and physically.

3. Jesus’s ugliness leads to our beauty.

Bible Verse: He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him. (Isaiah 53:2)

Take Away: The Son of God had dazzling divine glory and beauty before the incarnation (Phil 2:6, Luke 9:29–30), but he didn’t come to us in beauty. This verse from Isaiah states that he was completely unremarkable in his physical appearance. In fact, none of the Gospels tell us anything about how he looked. Their disregard for how Jesus looked shows that at some important level, it just didn’t matter. Their lack of descriptions fits well with what Isaiah said about Jesus hundreds of years before.

People weren’t drawn to Jesus by his physical beauty. They were attracted to him by how he treated people (and the miracles he performed). In fact, not only was Jesus no cover model, he would have been made very ugly by the crucifixion, with his body beaten and bloodied. But he became ugly precisely so that we could become beautiful. He took the ugliness of sin on the outside – but that was for us – so that we could become beautiful on the inside

So although Jesus is no cover model, he does model for us how to go forward. Because he has made us beautiful on the inside, we’re freed to be ugly on the outside, if it helps someone else. Questions to think through:

  • How can we take on what’s unglamorous so as to serve others?
  • Is there some lowly task that won’t make us look good, but if we do it, other people will benefit?

And because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have hope in the resurrection of being beautiful through and through, both inside and outside. We have the promise of our lowly body becoming like his glorious body (Phil 3:20–21; 1 Cor 15:43) and the new city Jerusalem is painted as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev 21:2). There is so much beauty to come.

How then do we live now as we wait? Beauty is a right thing to desire but perhaps not now, at least not in physical appearance. The way we are beautiful now is through our actions to others (see last week’s post). And we trust God to provide materially now for us, as we wait for the transformation of our bodies into beauty, where the outward will finally match the inward beauty of a life free from sin.

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