By Cindy Koch –
It’s pretty common. Shopping for clothes. Haircuts and maybe a pedicure come spring. We have a routine of upkeep to present ourselves to the world. Even on my most fuzzy days when the babies had kept me up all night and I had to run out to the grocery store, I barely remember brushing my hair and pulling on a pair of jeans, lest I run into anyone I knew. There is a level of care and self-worth we recognize in ourselves and others when an effort is made to be presentable. Even more so, when extra time is invested, a special outfit, carefully applied lipstick, we infer that this woman has something to offer the world. Her beauty speaks before her words ever do. No doubt, some have this natural gift more than others, but every woman senses there is a wisdom that accompanies beauty.
Sadly, we know that this external display does not always mean what we think it should. A pretty face often leaves us disappointed when we hear what she has to say. A well-chosen outfit doesn’t always adorn the pure of heart. A calm and peaceful Instagram picture doesn’t always tell the truth. And so we are rightfully cautious of those who wear beauty on the outside. Naturally, even unconsciously, we want the outwardly beautiful to be meaningful and right. But more often, we are left wanting.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
So Christian woman throughout time have been reminded of the realty of their beauty within – not the external show, but the hidden life that endures quietly in an imperishable hope. Enjoyed here in its context, Peter urges women, just like all other followers of Jesus Christ, to embrace their life of suffering. Even in the ugliest of circumstances, in the midst of unjust situations, he encourages these blessed, beautiful women to hang on to their eternal hope and endurance that frees them from every present fear. He focuses our life back upon the gifts of Christ’s loving submission, even until death.
Strangely, though, our modern understanding of a woman turns away from this beautiful gift of which Peter speaks. Voices tell us we should not be quiet especially if we find ourselves in a life of suffering. They tell us that we are weak if we endure in an unjust circumstance. They tell us to free ourselves from the bondage of a submissive love. Rather than the imperishable beauty that we were called to, the quiet and gentle spirit that follows the suffering of Jesus, the world expects us to polish ourselves up pretty.
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1Peter 2:19-24)
Even though we are tempted to braid up our hair in righteous works or to put on our “best life now” jewelry, our imperishable beauty comes from somewhere else. Even though we look ashamed and afraid of the terrible circumstances that surround us right now, a quiet and gentle spirit promises you eternal life. He bore your sin, your failure as a woman, your disastrous attempts to make life better, and placed his body on the tree for you. Yes, beautiful woman, today you will surely suffer. But you will certainly live in His righteousness, accomplished by Christ alone. Your true beauty is hidden deep within your restored and redeemed heart. It’s by His beautiful wounds you have been healed.