REDEFINING BEAUTY : Sandeep Poonen

The word beauty is one of the most coveted descriptions that we humans want today. God Himself is known for His beauty (Psalm 27:4). We see amazing displays of beauty in nature, and we see beauty in people, cars, houses, clothes, etc. Given that God Himself created a beautiful world, admiring the beauty in things around us is not automatically a bad thing. So where does the recognition and admiration of beauty become wrong and sinful?

This is where looking to God and His Word for what it says about beauty is useful. The Bible must become our dictionary in finding out the true Divine definition of truth.

 I don’t know how many of us know this, but the devil was initially perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28:12). And where did this perfection of beauty come from? From God Himself! Yet, the same one who was perfect in beauty ended up becoming the devil, the most evil of all beings. And it is instructive to see that the one who was perfect in beauty became the most evil of beings because his “heart was lifted up” because of his beauty (Ezekiel 28:17). So his beauty was the very cause for his destruction.

 The lesson we can learn from this is that even though beauty is a gift from God, it has a massively destructive ability – to even change a sinless angel into the most evil of beings. This should give us a great healthy fear over all the beautiful things in our lives – whether it is our own physical beauty, the beauty of our children, our houses, clothes, hair, singing, musical talents, and so on. If my heart is lifted up because of anything beautiful that I have, I am in a very dangerous position. I am in danger of a massive fall from grace.

 And what helps is for me to redefine beauty by what God finds beautiful. As you will see, what God finds beautiful is VERY DIFFERENT from what we naturally call beautiful. I believe that as we change our definition of beauty to what GOD calls beautiful, we will stop marveling at beauty by what our eyes tell us, but by what God tells us is beautiful to HIM!

1) A reverence for God

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

The inference from this verse is clear to me. It is the fear of the Lord that makes someone beautiful, not their charming personality and not their physical features. This is clearly applicable to all women, as they are judged so severely in this world by their physical features. BUT, this has applicability to all of us, and whatever we consider beautiful.

 I am safe only when I value my children and even my wife for what makes them eternally beautiful. And I am in danger when I value my children or wife by their physical appearance or their charming (cute) personalities. God is interested in what is in our hearts, not by our physical appearances or our personalities (1 Samuel 16:7). And God is looking for a heart that fears and reverences God. This is what I must remind myself when I am tempted to value the physical beauty of people – what I see in the mirror or the ones around me.

2) Gracious speech

Psalm 45:2 – You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips; therefore God has blessed You forever.

This verse is a prophetic Psalm about Jesus, and the Psalmist says that Jesus is more beautiful (fairer) than all others. And what made Jesus most beautiful is that His speech is overflowing with grace.

This is another definition of beauty that I want to esteem. I don’t know how many times we have seen gracious speech as being beautiful and harsh speech as being ugly. This is where I need to renew my mind to what God says. So I want to value the divine beauty of being increasingly perfect in my speech (James 3:2). And I want to make sure that my wife and my children recognize that this is what I value as beautiful. So if I see myself as being physically-attractive, but I find myself having a loose tongue, I must see my ugliness. And if my children speak disrespectfully, I must see the gross ugliness that is being displayed.

3) Filled with the Spirit of love and service

Hosea 14:6 – His shoots will sprout and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.

The book of Hosea talks about the adulterous heart of the people of God. But it ends with a beautiful message of hope: A call to return to God, and where He will establish us again. This is the context of Hosea 14:6, where our beauty will be like that of an olive tree.

What is the beauty of the olive tree? It is not the most physically beautiful of trees. But it is a symbol of the oil that comes forth from that true, and oil being a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

So what is the beauty of a Spirit-filled life, where I bear the oil of the Holy Spirit?·

Psalm 52:8 – But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.

 The beautiful Spirit-filled life is a life where I unfailingly trust in God, because of His infinite lovingkindness of God that has already been extended towards me

 Judges 9:9 – But the olive tree said to them, “Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?”

The beautiful Spirit-filled life is where I hate all desire to control others, and am gripped to live up to my calling of being a blessing to God and others around me. There is a human glamor in ruling over others. This is how we define glory and beauty. But this is what caused the devil to fall. He wanted to ascend and be like God in authority and power. But I want to reject all human definitions of beauty that come from power. I want to have the power of the Holy Spirit to love God and others around me.

 4) A holy and united church

Psalms 50:2 – Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.

 Zion is a prophetic picture for the New Covenant church today. Sadly, very few Christians have been a part of a church that is beautiful. And very few Christians have faith that their local church can be an increasingly picture of the perfection of beauty.

God desires that the same perfection of beauty that once resided once in the devil (before he became the devil, being lifted up by the pride in his beauty), should be increasingly present in the church. We must see that this is why the devil hates the universal Body of Christ, and also hates every local church that seeks to represent Christ perfectly.

But we don’t need to be afraid of the devil. Jesus promises us that the church can go on the attack against the gates of hell and overpower it. And the church has the ability bind those forces of evil in the heavenly places (Matthew 16:18-19). But we as Christians must be convinced of the immense beauty in the local church.

 And what makes the church beautiful is what makes God glorious and beautiful – the holiness (Psalm 29:2) and unity (John 17:22) in the Trinity. So we seek to exemplify and glorify the virtues of holiness and unity in the local churches that we choose to be a part of.

Family of God, there is a dire need for us to redefine beauty in accordance to God’s Word. We are growing up in a world that is increasingly living by what their eyes see, and defining beauty by their senses (beautiful things to look at, beautiful music or voices to listen to, beautiful foods to taste, beautiful things to touch, beautiful fragrances to smell). And our children are facing an increasing pressure from the world, like no generation before, to pursue these destructive definitions of beauty.

The only hope for our children to live secure healthy lives that are pleasing to God, is if we demonstrate lives that are beautiful to God. We must be gripped by God’s definition of beauty. Only if they see this view of beauty in our values and our behavior, will our children have any hope of catching the same view of beauty. Otherwise we will find them discouraged and beaten down by the god of this world – who was perfect in beauty but is now the ugliest of all beings.

May God help us