Incorruptible Beauty

Dear Friends,

As a teenager I used to find it amusing when my Mum had to hold whatever she was reading further away from her face in order to see the words clearly.  I don't find it so amusing now that I'm needing to do the same!

I've recently found a few grey hairs and the wrinkles on my face are getting more noticeable.  (Although I like to think of them as laughter lines.)  What's also scary is when I sometimes look in the mirror I see my mum's face looking back at me.  When did I begin morphing into my mother?!

Society seems obsessed with body image, with being physically fit, with body size and shape and the way we look.  People can spend enormous amounts of money in order to feel good, look good and appear younger than they are.  Spending hours at the gym, perfecting a fake tan, injecting poisons into themselves and even going to the extreme of going under the knife.  All for the sake of trying to slow down the inevitable - the aging process.  The truth is that come tomorrow, you and I will be a day older than we are today, and nothing we can do can stop that from happening.  In 2 Corinthians 4:16 we are told that "our bodies are dying" (NLT)

I confess there are times when I spend too much time on my appearance, worrying about how my hair looks, if my make-up is just right, the clothes I'm wearing, and whether I've put on a pound or two recently.  When actually there are far more important things to be concerned about.

That's not to say that we shouldn't take care of our bodies, after all, God created us, he gave us the gift of life and we are not to abuse or neglect our bodies.  As it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body." (NLT)

But God is more interested in what we are like on the inside, not our outward appearance. "The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel  16:7 (NLT)

I like what Peter has to say on the matter, he's talking to wives but I think it's applicable to all women and men too. "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 (NKJV) 

God is more interested on who we are on the inside because whereas one day our physical bodies will be no more, the good news is that our souls will last forever.  Let's read the rest of the verse from 2 Corinthians 4:16 "Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day." (NLT)  Our bodies are wasting away, there's no denying that, over time our hair goes grey, our skin sags, our eyesight and hearing weaken.  But at the same time this is happening we are progressively being renewed day by day, and that to me is a tremendously encouraging truth.

We became a new creation the moment invited Jesus into our life, when we handed our life over to him and asked him to give us eternal life.  "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Although our new life began immediately we said yes to Jesus, renewal is also a process that happens daily, as we become more like him, and it's a process that continues until the day we are with him in heaven.

How does this work?  I believe that the renewing process is the role of the Holy Spirit.  "So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT).  I also like how the Amplified Bible puts that verse: "And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendour and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit." 

I also believe that it pleases the Holy Spirit when we choose to partner with him in the process, when we are willing for him to have his way, however hard it may be, whatever the cost and whatever the pain that is involved.  He is the one who will renew our thoughts, our attitudes and behaviour, and he is the one who will work in us to make us look more like Jesus from the inside out, if only we will let him.  Colossians 3:1-17 and Ephesians 4 are great passages to read and study when it comes to the process of being renewed and what this inner beauty looks like.  As we are renewed daily we become more loving, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forgiving, thankful, peaceful, truthful and look out for each other rather than being focused on self etc

What is happening within us is so much better than what is happening to us on the outside (to our physical bodies).  This is where I want my focus to be.  I don't want to be wasting my time on being overly concerned about my appearance, after all, I can't take it with me.  I want to use my time wisely, spending it working side by side with the Holy Spirit, becoming more like Jesus, because this is what is lasting, this is what I shall be taking with me to my heavenly home.

To Think About:
Do you spend too much time thinking about and concerning yourself with your outward appearance?  If so, why does what's on the outside matter so much to you?

What does an inner beauty look like to you?

Are you willing to work alongside the Holy Spirit so that he can renew you from the inside?  Do you sense him wanting to renew a particular attitude or particular behaviour and if so will you give him your co-operation?

Vicki

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