|© John Mark Ministries
Do not adorn yourselves outwardly... rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. 1 Peter 3:4.
D.H.Lawrence said the human soul is more in need of beauty than bread.
But what is beauty? For John Keats 'a thing of beauty is a joy forever.' But a visit to an art gallery will evidence many approaches to aesthetic beauty. Some of the ways marginalized young people decorate themselves are abhorrent to those whom they might describe as 'straight'. If an executive put a ring through his nose (or cheek or even his ear-lobes) he would probably wonder why he was not promoted...
'What does he/she see in her/him?' The man is 'plain-looking', the girl is 'homely'. Beauty is supposed to be in the eye of the beholder. For Picasso 'beauty [was a] word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to.'
Beauty is relative. Some African cultures would use the word 'beautiful' to describe a woman Hollywood would laugh at. Parents of so-called 'deformed' or 'mentally handicapped' children say they're beautiful, but others can't see it (and may even be repulsed by those same children). Everyone is beautiful, in their own way...
Jesus, you believe I am beautiful. Convince me to agree with you! Amen.
TRUE BEAUTY (2)
A gentle and quiet spirit... is very precious in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:4.
Physical beauty can be hazardous to one's emotional health. As every 'beautiful' woman knows, she can be treated as simply an aesthetic, sexual object, and that is so belittling. Indeed it's an insult to her personhood.
In a book of quotes I found this: 'There is only one kind of beauty that can transcend time, and many women possess it. It is, of course, beauty of the spirit that lights the eyes and transforms even a plain woman into a beautiful one. Women with wit, charm, and warmth, who are interested in others and forget themselves, and who accept each stage of life gracefully, are the lasting beauties of this world - and the happiest.'
Beauty, says our text is a matter more of inner transformation than outward attraction. The greatest beautifier is a contented heart and a gentle and quiet spirit.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me - all his wondrous compassion and purity. O Spirit divine, all my nature refine, until I become more and more like him. Amen.
IT'S GOOD TO BE ME!
You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Mark 12:31.
Humans have a deep need to be loved, to develop a healthy self-love, an authentic self-esteem.
Self-esteem and selfishness are opposites, as Erich Fromm and others have taught us. Selfishness, he wrote in Escape from Freedom, is a kind of greediness. But like other forms of greed it is never satisfied, it is insatiable. The selfish person never gets enough attention, or praise. There is always a fear of not having enough, of being deprived of something. And so there is always an envy of anyone who might have 'more'.
Narcissism is an inordinate love of self, which is at root a form of self-hatred. The narcissist is always trying to convince himself or herself that the 'self' of which he or she is so preoccupied really is as cute or lovable as they would like it to be (but is secretly aware is flawed somewhere).
We are creatures both of light and of darkness. We are like God, and like the devil. We are glorious, and we are sinful. We are lovable, and our evil thoughts words and deeds are a horror to God. So...?
Lord, save me from selfishness, which is a greedy preoccupation with myself. Rather, help me to love and believe in myself - but always to your glory. Amen.
MY CHILD: GOD IS WELL PLEASED WITH YOU TOO!
My Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17.
John Powell (The Secret of Staying in Love) tells of introducing himself to a university class on their first day together. He told them he accepted, and, indeed, loved himself. He believed, he said, that he was a very good person, kind, generous, and loving. He liked his intelligence, his instinctual feeling that he was a good teacher with a stimulating message. He tried to do this in a sincere, factual, and honest manner.
The reaction? Some of the students laughed nervously. Others had a wondering look in their stares. One girl turned to her neighbour and said, 'Yuk! What conceit!'
Bertrand Russell said 'You cannot possibly be at peace with others until you have learned to be at peace with yourself.'
Who am I Lord? Who do I think I am? Who do others think I am? What have I done? What can I do well - or poorly (and what's all that got to do with who I am, essentially?). Help me to have a realistic, sane estimate of my worth - which has no connection with what I do, who I know, or what I own. Amen.
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