All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field . . . The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:6
. . . let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4
Summer is a time of intense, but short-lived beauty. Flowers bloom in the morning and fade by afternoon. So it is with a woman’s physical beauty: it blooms in season, and then it fades.
Whether it is the guileless beauty of the little girl, the exuberant beauty of the teenager, the radiant beauty of a bride, the nurturing beauty of a mother, or the stately beauty of an elderly woman’s graying years, our physical beauty blooms in season and then recedes, one day to fade forever. Outward beauty is, by its very nature, a perishable thing--lovely but not long-lasting, attractive but vain, stunning but also fleeting.
This does not mean we should despise outward beauty any more than we despise the summer flower in full bloom. Each beauty should be tended and appreciated in its time. We do not grow more godly by trying to look less attractive, for beauty is from God and each and every woman made in his image is beautiful (Genesis 1:27).
We should appreciate beauty, but we must never set our hope on it. If we pin our hopes on the short-lived beauty of this physical body for happiness, security, or fulfillment, we will only find bitter disappointment waiting for us at the end of life’s summertime. The “gospel according to physical beauty” that blasts from every loudspeaker of our looks-obsessed culture does not deliver as advertised. You might as well hope in the wildflowers along the interstate.
The Bible, however, tells us the truth about physical beauty. We learn that outward beauty is a gift, but a momentary one. So we enjoy it today, but do not weep when it is gone. We never expected it to last; it never held our hopes.
The Christian woman hopes in a better beauty--a beauty that is, by nature, imperishable, enduring, and eternal. It is the godly beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit--the striking loveliness of a woman who has patiently endured severe trials with steadfast trust in God. Unlike the momentary beauty of the fading flower, godliness is like the abiding, majestic beauty of a great tree. Its roots run deep into the soil, feeding off the nutrients of God’s Word; its vast limbs provide fruit and shade for many, and it only grows more beautiful through the hot afternoons of summer and the cold nights of winter. This is a beauty to be treasured: a strong and stable beauty for a lifetime of loveliness.
The gospel of Jesus Christ frees us from setting our hope on physical beauty so that we can pursue a beauty that will last forever.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Praise God for the beauty of summertime and for creating you in his image.
- Ask God to forgive you for setting your hopes on physical beauty and to help you pursue the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit first and foremost.
- Thank your Savior for the gospel, which sets us free to pursue the true and better beauty that will never fade.
Nicole Whitacre is a wife and mother of four. She is the coauthor of Girl Talk, Shopping for Time, and True Beauty, and blogs with her mom and sisters at GirlTalkHome.com, a blog about biblical womanhood.