Monday, 19 November 2012

Beautiful - inside-out!

My children were watching a Bible DVD about David.  It got to the part where Samuel is choosing from Jesse's sons, which should be anointed as king.  Samuel doesn't understand why a prime specimen like Eliab should be passed over, and God tells him this...

"man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
I Samuel  16:7

Those words jumped out at me, as I was sitting doing something else in the same room as them.

I was struck by how this verse is truly a verse for women.  We live in a day and age where we are bombarded with advice, information and advertising, for things that will make us more "beautiful".  Weight-loss advice (which, I will say, is not always to do with beauty, but fitness, which IS good), how to style your hair, which make-up is best, which clothes to wear to flatter your figure.  We are given "examples" of beauty in models, actresses, celebrities.  We are constantly pressurised to compare ourselves to such "beauties", and made to feel we just don't cut it unless we measure up to how they look.

I actually know people who think they need to obsessively exercise for the perfect body - that they need to plaster their faces in make-up to hide every single "blemish" - that they need to spend a fortune on having perfect hair - and, that they need wear the latest fashions to look "right".

It makes me sad to see people caught in the world's "snare", of wanting to be beautiful.


Simply because they are looking to the wrong parameters of what matters.  Look at the verse above.  Eliab
was basically good-looking and tall.  He was, probably, the perfect picture of manhood.  I KNOW it's a man, in this particular story, but I think that in today's world, it's women who are judged in this way MORE than men.  The Lord is not looking for what looks good on the OUTSIDE, He is more concerned about the heart.

THAT, my friends, is what I am talking about.  

We could spend all the time in the world, preening and pruning and primping, to look "just right".   We could spend money we don't really have on make-up, hair products and clothes that we just don't need.  ALL to look good on the outside.  

What is all of that, if our hearts are not right before the Lord?  If we are harbouring sin, that we need to deal with.  If we don't have a loving heart.  If we covet the beauty or possessions of others.

We even have a more specific instruction for us women.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
I Peter 3:3-4

"Meek" and "quiet" seems to conjure up this vision of a  little mouse of a woman, who will not say a word unless spoken to. 

THIS is NOT what it means.

"Meekness" is NOT weakness.  

Meekness is humility and gentleness.  

"Quiet" is NOT being silent at every given opportunity.

Quiet is still, unruffled and immovable.

It is to do with being calm on the inside, whilst everything maybe be going nuts in the world around us!  

OH how like my outside world THAT is!!! As mothers, things can get pretty hairy around us.  Children get into all sorts of mischief, disagreements, scraps, bother and general mayhem! 

So, how do we live this out in our lives?  How can we make sure that this aspect of our "heart", which God sees, is pleasing to Him?

Those moments when we disagree with our husband's about something?  We DON'T descend into a crumpled heap of weeping woman on the floor - fighting to get our own way, and for our opinion to be heard above his.   We remain gentle and calm, and work it out in a way that doesn't involve an emotional outburst.

Those times in the day when our children are being wilfully disobedient?  We DON'T have an outburst of anger and discipline them in the heat of the moment.  We calmly speak to them about their behaviour, and deal with it in a gentle manner.

Those tired moments, when we are struggling to get it all done, we have children being, well, CHILDREN, and the house is descending into anarchy?  We DON'T start yelling at the children (because we haven't dealt with it sooner and it's escalated  by our own neglect, into this chaos), and having a melt-down.  We calmly look at what needs to be done, and gently get things into gear by being the example we should be. 

The examples are endless, and I am sure you will think of some way that you don't normally exhibit "meek and quiet", when you should!

I KNOW it's hard.  I KNOW days can be difficult.  Do you think I came up with my examples out of the fresh air?!? NO!!!  I am an expert at "NOT meek and quiet", to my shame.

I think, like so many other things, that if we have our heart focussed on the Lord through-out the day - if we are immersed in His word - if we live a life of "praying without ceasing" - all of this will help us have our hearts in the right place, where meek and quiet come more naturally.

And, do you see how God describes such a heart?

You can cast aside all the valuable jewellery you may possess, because a heart that is meek and quiet is,  in God's sight, "of great price".  It's a valuable thing to have, and God sees it as precious and worth having.  THIS should be my primary motivation, above all else.  Having a heart that is precious in God's sight. 

So, today, I am going to endeavour to work on my heart's beauty.  

Yes, I will shower, get dressed, and make sure I look presentable on the outside.  

But, my heart will have a work-out and I will do my best, by God's strength, to be that meek and quiet woman that we are told of in I Peter. 

Will you join me? 

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