Saturday, December 4, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Beauty Does Comes From Within

Television shows, product advertisements and magazines remind us regularly that we as average women do not measure up to the world's standard of beauty. Women can spend up to $3,000 dollars a year on creams, make up, hair products, not to mention what it costs for a cut and color these days, and manicures.* With all of the world's influence on our outward appearance and never being beautiful enough, what is real beauty?

This past week we read through 1 Peter. I personally love the chapter 3, verses 3-6. It is God's idea of a beautiful woman. Its says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." It is completely the opposite of what the advertisements tell us. The world tells us we have to fight for our place, because it's a man's world.

What caught my attention is where it says "gentle and quiet spirit." How often do you find yourself restless inside your soul? When I read this a few years ago, I was dealing with some inner conflict with who I was. I admit, I still often wrestle in my soul, but those four words went deep to my spirit. It's not about how beautiful we are on the outside, it's that proverbial saying, "beauty comes from within." We hear that, but I don't think we really know what that means. Peter explains it to us. Most women don't realize that when they are angry and discontent on the inside, it leaks into the way they talk and act, which can result in bad attitudes, negativity and just plain mean.

I actually don't think we women are trying to beautify ourselves for the men in our lives. If we are really truthful about it, we are in competition with other women. Afraid that our husband or boyfriend will leave us for some woman more beautiful than we are. Or maybe we just think everyone out there is prettier than we are. I have to laugh, one day my son and I were at the grocery store. He was glancing at all the of magazine covers. Out of the blue he says to me, "Mom, I don't want to date or marry a girl who looks like a doll." That's exactly what these airbrushed models look like, porcelain dolls. Something fragile. Paul describes us as jars of clay that hold the treasure of Christ inside (2 Corinthians 4:7).

I mentioned the word just a moment ago, afraid. We read about this in verse 6. If we put our hope in the Lord, then we have no reason to give way to fear. A few years ago, I did a study on this passage. I took a survey from 50 of my friends and found that 30 replied saying rejection was their greatest fear. What else I discovered was how often we use the words, afraid and scared in our conversations. It was truly amazing to me when I began to take notice of it. "Fear not" is mentioned 365 times. That means one "fear not" for each day.

What else I find interesting about this verse is that Peter referred to Sarah. We are her daughters if we don't give way to fear. It is amazing to me how Sarah is now known by her incredible faith. But it wasn't always that way because if we remember back when Sarai offered her servant Hagar to Abram (Genesis 16), she did not seem like a woman with much faith. It was about 10 years from the time Ishmael was born to Hagar until the time Isaac was born to Sarah. I am sure she had much turmoil in her spirit wondering if she would ever see her promise. I wonder if God changed her name from Sarai to Sarah after she surrendered her spirit to Him (Genesis 17:15&16). Her new identity was now based on an act of faith. Much like salvation is for us. After all, her name does mean princess and you can't reign if you don't have people to reign over.

Fear is paralyzing, isolating and deadly. It hold us captive to our circumstance. I have told this story many times of how the Lord explained circumstance to me. He told me to take the word and break it in to two. Then He had me look them up. The word circum means "to go around" and the word stance means "position while standing." We need to realize that our circumstances are going to keep going around and it's our stance of "faith" that will get us through. There are two definitions for fear. One is to be afraid and the other is reverential awe. The question here is, are you so afraid of what you fear that you revere it? What I mean by that is do you worship what you fear? It is said what you think about the most is what you worship. Our reverential awe should be for God. Do you put your fears above God?

Job sums it all up for us in chapter 3, verses 25 and 26. It says "What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” That is exactly what happens to us. The fear we live with causes us so much turmoil and restlessness. It goes back to keeping a gentle and quiet spirit.

Whatever the world thinks is beautiful, is contradictory to what God says is beautiful. Jesus is beautiful and if we believe in him and have the Holy Spirit within us, there is no doubt that we are beautiful because He is beautiful.

This portion of scripture is near and dear to my heart. I am without a doubt guilty of struggling with fear and wrestling with my self worth on the inside. I wish I could be writing this from the perspective of someone who has overcome, but I write as someone who fights this every day of my life. If you too struggle at all with insecurity and/or fear, I want to encourage you not to give up the fight. Don't let fear hold you captive. Don't let that restless spirit from within keep you uptight. Instead, let the peace of Christ rule in your heart (Colossians 3:15), because beauty really does come from within.