A Change In Perspective –
So, if we are in this pursuit after true beauty, what are the traits that we’re looking for?
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” -1 Peter 3:3-4
“A gentle and quiet spirit”? Honestly, this verse has always bugged me. I’m not a quiet person by nature; I like to talk. I see this definition of a gentle and quiet spirit and my mind automatically pictures a frail woman, standing timidly in a corner while everyone else carries on. Well – let me tell you – that’s not me. From the time that I was little I would stand in the middle of a group of adults and lead the conversation. I was the little girl that talked to strangers in the grocery store and struck up a conversation with every person I met. My Dad referred to me as the friend factory because no matter where I went, I left with a few more friends. However, I always envied the quiet girls; the ones that didn’t have to share their minds and were content to sit and listen. I’ll readily listen to whatever people have to tell me, but – my best friend can assure you – they are going to get whatever is on my heart when they’re finished.
So what does this verse mean by a “gentle and quiet spirit”? Does it really mean we can’t ever speak up or be sociable? Well, here’s what I’ve pulled away from this verse over the few years that I’ve spent studying it:
Me? Gentle and Quiet? –
The Lord teaches us through trials. I’ve covered that subject in other posts such as Surprised By Prayer and my short series on worry. The times that we miss the lessons that He is teaching us are the times when we’re too busy to open our hearts to His instruction. Sometimes we just need to quiet our minds and let Him teach us. Is this what 1 Peter means by a “quiet spirit”? I think this covers it partially.
The other aspect that I see to this is that some people are just plain rowdy. They’re uncontrollable, disorderly, or obstinate. While I can get a bit goofy at times (there’s really nothing wrong with that), I realize that certain situations call for seriousness. This “quiet spirit” isn’t one that never enjoys life, but one that is mature enough to be serious when she needs to be and not completely off the wall when she doesn’t.
Last of all, when I don’t understand a verse, I dig through all of the commentaries in my bible software. Here’s what I found from John Gill:
those that are possessed of such a spirit are not easily provoked to anger; patiently bear, and put up with injuries; carry themselves affably and courteously unto all; entertain the meanest thoughts of themselves, and the best of others; do not envy the gifts and graces of others, and are willing to be instructed and admonished by the meanest saint; quietly submit to the will of God, in all adverse dispensations of Providence; and ascribe all they have, and are, to the free grace of God, and reckon that when they have done all they can, they are but unprofitable servants. This grace of meekness, humility, and quietness, is a fruit of the Spirit, and so a part of the hidden [person], and is what is very ornamental to a believer; it is [her] clothing, [her] inward adorning, and what makes [her] lovely in the sight of God, and of His people.
So having a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t mean you don’t have an opinion. It means you are humble, willing, patient, gracious, caring, courteous, content, and kind. Honestly, some of the most spiritually beautiful women I know could talk for hours on one subject or another. Listening to these women is so encouraging because of their gentle and quiet spirits. You see, when we quiet our spirit and let the Lord feed our hearts through His word, that is what will flow out of us as we speak to others.
Remember the Proverbs thirty-one woman; she wasn’t sitting timidly in a corner, but was busy caring for others.
“She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy… She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.” -Proverbs 31:13-20, and 27
Precious in the Sight of God –
In everything, God comes first. No matter what we’re doing, our main goal is to glorify our Savior. For the single woman, we only have Him to please. For the married woman, you have God and your husband to please.
“There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world–how she may please her husband.” -1Corinthians 7:34
“God calls a married woman to please her husband; so therefore you are pleasing God when you seek to please your husband.” -Carolyn Mahoney
I won’t get very deep into that, because I’m far from the authority on marriage.
For the single woman, however, I understand that striving to focus on only pleasing God is tough. I know that I will probably see this topic differently when I’m older and that those older than I will probably read this and think, “If she only knew.” Well, as I recently told my Dad, “I’m new at this thing called life” so bear with me. 🙂 Anyway, I tend to see this time of un-attachment as the most important, because it’s who I am right now that will attract whoever it is that I will spend the rest of my life with. I want to look my best and be my best because I never know who’s watching, right? True, but do I realize the beauty of a heart that’s following God? With my focus completely on pleasing my Savior, I’m leaving the rest in the hands of God. On top of that – if and when I marry – it’ll be to a guy who is more attracted to the beauty of my character than to the beauty of my body. If you’re still wondering about this, may I suggest the book Lady in Waiting by Debbie Jones and Jackie Kendall.
Put the Potato Sack Back –
So, with all this talk of beauty, does that mean that stylish clothing, jewelry, makeup, hair-styles, ect. are evil? Does this mean that we’re all supposed to walk around in potato sacks and drab hair cuts? Of course not! Seeking to please the Lord does not mean that we neglect our personal appearance. The Proverbs thirty-one woman wore colorful, high quality clothing, and the bride in Song of Solomon adorned her appearance with jewelry. What about Esther? She underwent twelve months of beauty treatments. The Bible doesn’t condemn wearing and using these things; it’s wearing them for the wrong reasons that displeases God. When we have our focus on glorifying God, all of those other things will fall into place. We can still be fashionable, but we need to keep all of it in proper perspective.
“With God at the center – like the ‘sun,’ satisfying a woman’s longing for beauty and greatness and truth and love – all the ‘planets’ of food and dress and exercise and cosmetics and posture and countenance will stay in their proper orbit.” -John Piper, A Godward Life
When you’re considering how to enhance your appearance, evaluate your motives and your commitment to modesty. Are you doing this only to draw attention to yourself or are you seeking an outward appearance that honors God and attracts others to your character?
Our Bodies: A Gift From God –
Remember that our bodies are not our own; they are a gift from God.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
When someone entrusts us with something, we’re always careful to treat it extra special. Take care of the body that God has given you. Don’t be eating right simply because you’re worried about what people will think of you; eat right because that’s what’s good for the body that God has given you.
More Than Decor –
After an exhausting bout with the unruly dishes, I take a moment to inspect my hands. They’re red, puffy and – honestly – look something akin to raisins. Dishpan-hands; I’m sure you know what they look like. True, the dishes are under control (for now), but it’ll take my hands a moment to recover from their odd state and even then, this bout with the dishes may still display itself through my dried out knuckles. Oh, did I mentioned my hair? The moisture of the steamy water has left my tresses relentlessly frizzy and the heat has reddened my sweat-sticky face. You can bet I’d make a run for it if anyone happened to drop in.
But you know, no matter what the world may say, life isn’t about looking our very best 24/7. We aren’t merely decorative; we have a far greater purpose. Remember the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, along with the labor of the woman in Proverbs thirty-one. We are here to serve others and – once again – Jesus is the ultimate example.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:28
So, we can spend our time fretting over the affects that work has on our appearance or we can realize the true beauty of a caring heart. We must realize that God isn’t looking at us for what we are on the outside, but for who we are on the inside. The Lord is evaluating the attitude of our hearts and that is where He is searching for true beauty.