Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Fret if God Made You Lowly

Although we all agree in theory that "beauty is only skin deep," that seems to be deep enough for most of society. More than one research study has confirmed what the less attractive suspected all along--people who fit cultural ideas of "good-looking" get more promotions at work, better service in public, and more prospective friends and dates. "Beautiful people" also get away with more misbehavior--up to a point, that is. Some actions are so ugly that even Miss America would be ostracized for engaging in them.

Not all such actions are those which society calls blatantly evil. One thing that can quickly kill people's admiration for the prettiest of us is a perennial scowl combined with a snarling, complaining attitude. Conversely, those who are always cheerful and smiling tend to be seen as "attractive" even when they share few physical attributes with the typical fashion model. Perhaps it's not physical "beauty" per se that we admire, but the aura of confidence that typically grows from receiving regular positive attention. Or, more likely, the aura of unselfishness that grows along with happiness as someone learns to count blessings and share them with others.

In any case, the Bible is in full agreement that "charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting" (Prov. 31:30, NIV). Peter wrote that "beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes" (1 Pet. 3:3). Even Jesus was described as having "no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Is. 53:2). From the beginning of His ministry, He identified with and reached out to the unattractive and undesirable.

Besides healing the obviously ill, Jesus also "healed" ugliness, and still does. He rarely changes our physical features, but He gives us those attributes that make anyone more beautiful: thankfulness, happiness, and concern for others rather than ourselves. "[The] inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit... is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Pet. 3:4). And often enough, even in the sight of the easily-distracted-by-glitter world.

As Proverbs 31:30 puts it after noting that physical beauty is untrustworthy and temporary: "a woman [or man] who fears the LORD is [always] to be praised."

Black oil does more for more people
Than diamonds or gleaming gold;
A chicken's more use than a peacock
To humans, if truth be told;
Collectors of trash, if absent,
Are missed sooner than CEO's:
So don't fret if God made you lowly--
It's through such that His best work grows!

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