English Article:The Inner Beauty V/S outside Beauty | Jobin Sam Varghese
The pressure to look good externally is killing both women and men – The world outside -with such heavy advertisements- showcases the outside beauty as prominent and makes people think low of there body. Research conducted by Dove states that only 4% of women around the globe consider themselves beautiful. 72% of girls are pressurized to look beautiful. Such an increase in beauty related pressure leads to depression, mental illness and at time sickness in itself. There is always an inferiority complex that is ever increasing in many peoples mind – irrespective of the cosmetics/beauty treatment they undergo- they find it difficult to appreciate the beauty in the way they are created.
God has created you uniquely and bible state the human being as his “workmanship”- the best of what God has made – I love the way it’s written in Psalms 139“ I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”
In this article, I would want to draw the significance of inner beauty possess!
The external beauty would fade over a period – what people would admire about you is your inner beauty! Bible describes it these ways “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”.- Proverb 31.30.
Quoting few biblical passages- that could help us understand Inner Beauty!
“ Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves”- 1 Pet 3: 3-5
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” – Proverb 31.25-26
(Give it few minutes to mediates through the above words)
Among the various women character that has inspired me, the story of the Shunammite woman stands out. Through this story, I would like to throw some light on a few of the attributes of inner beauty this woman demonstrated.
2 Kings 4: 8-37 | The Shunammite woman
The story speaks of a woman who built a room for Elisha, the prophet and about the blessing she receives as a reward. It also describes her characteristics – an example of a noblewoman. Here are some of her virtues.
– Notable – Some other versions of the Bible describes her as a well-to-do or worthy person. These are the traits that describe her. May the people around us (office/college/society ) have a good testimony about us. Using Paul’s words – lets always be reminded that “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” and as bible states lets lead a life worthy to the calling.
– Discernment – She did not judge Elisha when he first passed by her house. She observed him well, took time, and then realized that he was a holy man. Bible constantly about validating/testing each spirit/seeing if it’s scriptural- Let’s pray that we have the spirit of discernment to understand and rightly minister to set of people God is placing us with!
– Hospitality – She welcomed her guest (Elisha) with a joyful attitude and made him feel comfortable at their house. She understood the needs of the prophet and provided him all that he needed. It also reminds the way Rebecca extended the hospitality to Eliezer –by drawing water not just for him/servants but also for all the camels and then taking them to her house. Let’s show the great hospitality the people we are around with! When we encounter people with various needs around let’s stretch out our gracious hand and demonstrates the love of Christ through our works.
Maya Angelou- states “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
– Selfless – She was not only hospitable but also selfless. She built a room for the prophet because of her selfless attitude. Let us love the people God has put in our life more deeply. As James says – “faith without work is dead!” It always means to walk the extra mile for the love God has placed in our hearts.
– Contentment – She was happy with what she had. She did not ask for anything when the prophet asked for her need so he could fulfill it. She actually did not have a son, which was a major drawback in the life of a woman then. We see Hannah, Rachel, etc., who were tormented because of they where barren. It is at that social stigma when this woman lived. Yet, she did not complain to the prophet. She kept telling “everything is alright”. I am reminded of Paul’s description of God’s grace that enabled them to be content in the entire/all situation they were placed with – “Count your many blessings, name them one by one,And it will surprise you what the Lord has done”
Habakkuk 3.17,18 – “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” This should be the attitude of a Christian.
– Covered up the gaps in the house – We see a negative/low-light husband figure here (who was always seen to be in the field with less of family concerns). But she neither complained nor gossiped about her husband to anyone. She made sure her family functioned well and covered up all the loopholes. Even after she learned the son dead – after the father send the son back to her-she did not create tension in the place – she learns to keep the news with herself for the movement- we need to know where we need to share each of the information we have – even while the fact may be true- knowing to control the recipients- portably while the news reach other- the level of tension would just shoot and lead to more concerns. In book James – we see the metaphor of tongue- that to the steering wheel of the ship and the power it carries lit an entire forest on fire.
She also was quick to act (to take the son to the prophet) than to start blaming her husband for not giving the right first-aid when the child first approached him. In the event of a crisis it’s about doing the post-mortem to find who is at fault- but on fixing it. At the time it’s good to just suck certain concerns within ourselves for the larger good and move on –“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense..” Proverb17.9
We also note that she neither did create a negative impression of her husband on her son. That’s why we see the son – running to the father for help while his head was hard hit. There would be shortfalls in our loved ones – but a person of noble character would not gossip –make others know the weakness – but would cover up the gaps in the house. In book of James – we are being cautioned not to slander one another.
– Mature – She was a very mature woman who knew when to stay silent and when/where to speak. She did not tell her problems to everyone. She did not make prejudice thoughts about people. I am reminded of Abigail –house makers –a woman who showed bias for action -brought in peace with the right judgment and effectively stopped the sword from hitting her house. The ability to discern the situation, act and using the right word – would do wonders-“ The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver” – Proverb- 25.11
– A lady of submission – Irrespective of the character of the husband, we could learn of submissive nature she had in her life. She asked her husband’s permission before she built a room for the prophet Elisha and then let him know before she went to meet Elijah. Though she knew that it was the right thing to do/God’s spirit was guiding her to build that room, she also understood that she had to follow the authoritative hierarchy that God had set. “Learning to be Lead” is a very important attribute we must always carry – be at the church/office/family/college- lets always respect and honour the authorities God has placed over our life.
-Knew the importance of Prayer – She prayed for her family. When her son died, she ran toward Elisha and asked him to come and pray for the child. When we encounter unexpected storms hitting our boat, our first resort should be to kneel down in prayer and ask for His grace to endure through it. We will surely discover a sense of peace that will flow through us! Christ told “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt 11: 28-29.
– She had an extraordinary faith and held on it tight – When her son died, she made sure that the prophet would come down to her house and was not sorted in just having Gehazi, the prophet’s servant coming alone. She had the faith that if Elisha would come and pray, her son could be made alive. When we have losses, let us be able to tell along with Job “You give and take away, Lord, blessed be your name!” Instead of complaining, let us kneel down in prayer. God can restore your life back – irrespective of loses you had to go through – hold on tight in his arms- he will carry you through.
I would also want to assure you that our God is the one who brings to life the buried dreams – she’d probably lost all hopes of having a child! When you honor and work for God, be assured he would not be a debtor. Before Jesus got down from the boat of Peter, He understood the pain he was in and helped him to have a great catch of fishes!
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” Hebrews 6:10
As I conclude, I encourage you to focus on the inner beauty and spend your time in building up your character instead of worrying about the outer beauty – We read a word of caution “ Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion” – Proverb 11.22.
Let take inspiration from the above characters/passage and pray/ submit to Gods spirit to build and refine our character – so that our inner beauty would be significant and we become an encouragement to many around us!