by: Jeremiah Bolich
From time to time I hear comments made by Christians that seem to grind against what I have come to believe through my own Christian experience. Like all Christians, my theology and personal perspective as a believer have been shaped by a variety of sources. Yet for me personally, I can testify that, to the best of my knowledge, I have allowed the Bible to shape what I know, believe, and stand on as a Christian. What I am proposing must begin at this point, for all policies of conversation, both great and small, begin here.
Recently I “dipped” into a conversation that a mother was having with her young daughter. Mom was correcting some comment her daughter had made about someone being “ugly.” I listened as mom chastised the little girl and then instructed that “all people are beautiful, no one is ugly.” I thought to myself, what a strange perspective…and one I do not agree with.
Perhaps there are many ways to speak of beauty, such as the beauty found in minds, attitudes, and voices. I have witness for myself such beauty and I was privileged to behold it. Yet, there is also ugliness. This also can be seen in the mind, attitude, and voice. And like any who choose to open their eyes, this ugliness is easy to find and behold as well.
Yet we have yet to speak of the beauty and lack thereof that surrounds us and which this mother was instructing her young daughter. This, of course, is the physical appearance of the human being. Is there such a thing as beautiful and ugly here too? I believe there is.
I have never in my life been viewed as physically beautiful, yet truth be told, few have. Like most people, heads do not turn when I enter a crowded room. I’ve never stood out as someone to be gawked at. Now this is not to say that I scare away small children or peal the paint off houses, I am simply ordinary in the realm of physical appearance.
I am an example of one who should be contrasted with others. There are some who are blessed with physical beauty. There are those, when entering a room, draw all attention to themselves. They do this unwillingly, and sometimes unknowingly, for they are beautiful to look upon. They are the ones, in the times where our paths cross theirs, that the air around them seems to tingle and declare their loveliness. They are beautiful, and some, stunningly so!
The Scriptures do not openly instruct how we are to judge physical beauty, but it does reveal from time to time that there are some who possess extra-ordinary, exceptional beauty. In 2 Samuel 14:25, we read, “In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.”
We also read of the comparison and contrast between Rachel and Leah. In Genesis 29:17 we read, “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.”
This quality of beauty was also seen in Abraham’s wife. She was so lovely to look upon, that Abraham, at times, feared for his life to be seen with her in public. You can read for yourself his dilemma in Genesis 12:10-20.
These are but a few examples, but it seems obvious, both from the Bible and from common sense, that there are a few who enjoy the blessings of physical beauty. They stand in contrast to others. These others, who make up the many, do not possess beauty and therefore do not bear the weight of such a responsibility. To be beautiful is to bear the weight of great responsibility.
Those who possess beauty, possess both the possibility of a blessing and a cursing at the same time. It is so with any gift. In the same way that a preacher can become enamored with his gift of insight and proclamation, so too can the beautiful fall in love with their beauty.
It is a tragic thing to witness one of beautiful fall into the curse of vanity. The gifts of God are to always remain gifts. To seek to own a gift, to take it and use it for oneself, is vain and it will corrupt the very heart. In particular, when beauty becomes the passion and focus of the lovely one’s life, everything in their life shifts toward their beauty. From the clothing they wear to the surgeries they endure, their life becomes twisted in order to obtain, possess, and preserve the gift of beauty.
The Bible is clear; our life is to revolve around Jesus. We are driven by the Holy Spirit in matters of daily physical routine, such as dressing our bodies. Even this menial task is to bring glory to God. When our obsession shifts from Jesus to beauty, the clothing of our bodies also shifts. We then dress not for Him whom we serve, but for the curse of beauty in which we are enslaved.
I believe there is such a thing as physical beauty that sets some apart from others. To deny this fact of life is not only to willfully live in deception, but to alleviate the beautiful of the God given responsibility in which all gifts are given.
I challenge those who are blessed with beauty, to walk cautiously before the Lord your God in recognition and awareness of the gift bestowed upon you. Do not seek to hold on to it, nor seek to use it for yourself. Rather, be the blessing to others that you were created to be. And in modesty, be the revelation of Christ’s wonderful handiwork. The Bible has much to say about physical appearance and the Holy Spirit, through the vehicle of the Church, will help you understand and see yourself as God Himself sees you.
As for the rest of us, I would encourage that we praise God for the beautiful around us. That we enjoy, through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, the wonder of our great God’s creation. Beauty is a delight to behold, but a curse to take for oneself. Allow the gifts of God to remain gifts and pray continually for wisdom in all such matters that pertain to the physical.