I'm going to see if I can get my whole list from last week into three posts, so we'll see how this goes. If any of you want me to go deeper into one of these, or if you have something to add that I've overlooked, please leave a comment in the comments section! :)
James 1:17 tells us that "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, _who does not change like shifting shadows." In other words, God is always the same. He doesn't deal differently with Americans versus Russians, and he doesn't have random mood swings that change his judgment. No; He is always the same! Unfortunately, I don't think any of us can truthfully claim that for ourselves. I know I sometimes behave differently depending on who I'm with. And I can be very temperamental at times, randomly changing what I think and feel. This also heavily affects my judgment, meaning that I hold people to different standards.
I think a lot of us can relate to that; it's a pretty common human affliction. For us girls, I think this can weigh heavily in the judgment category. I, for one, feel like I'm always judging other girls, and holding myself against them to see how I measure up, and trying to make myself feel "superior" in some way. But God commands is not to judge this way. We often judge other people by appearances, but 1 Samuel 16:7 says that "'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" In this way, we know that God's judgment is always true, because he knows and sees everything about us. We, then, should strive to withhold judgment about people we don't know of understand, because our judgment can be incredibly hurtful.
Being different depending on our company really goes into this whole judgment thing, except it places us on the other side. Afraid to be judged poorly by our peers, we try to mould ourselves to fit whoever we happen to be with at a given time. Often, this sort of double-standard leads to gossip and hurtful behaviour, and not only is this far from God's intent for our lives, but it's a glaring smear in our lifestyle of beauty. I know that when I do things like that, I don't feel beautiful; in fact, I tend to feel pretty awful. The same is true when we judge people unfairly. We are called to be a reflection of God, but a mirror is no good if it has big black smears across it. That's not a very good example, but I think it makes the point.
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” –Galatians 2:21
The Bible calls us to be righteous; that’s something I’m not really going to cover, because it’s made pretty clear. If you want something more specific, let me know and I’d be happy to send you some verses. What I want to focus on is how we’re called to be righteous. In the Old Testament, righteousness was living an upright life and following the Commandments. But now that we have Christ, everything’s changed. We recognize that we are sinful people and upright living won’t get us anywhere (go back to Galatians 2:21 at the top of this section). We need Christ to get there. 1 John 3:7 says “he who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.” God is righteous. As children of God, we are called to take part in His righteousness.
So how does this tie into beauty? Let’s start with a more modern definition of “righteousness”: reflecting God and rejecting the world’s influence everywhere in our lives. The worldly influences that are most likely to afflict us are pretty obvious. Immodest dress and impure relationships are two of the most prominent. (If you’re curious how I define those, don’t be afraid to ask via email or the comments section.) Proverbs 31 talks about a woman, describing her as hardworking and dignified; in many ways, righteous. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) I encourage you to read this whole chapter, but for now I’m just going to point something out: of all the things to focus on, Proverbs 31 focuses on her character, and the way she fears the Lord, not her looks. Not only that, but it says “she is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10)
Finding righteousness in the Lord is beautiful, and people will see it. It’s a struggle, but hey; someday someone might describe you like the wife in Proverbs 31. I know I would be honoured by such a description.
Next week, Lord willing, I’m going to cover Faithfulness and Forgiveness. Have a great week!