The cultural demands of what we should look like are strong indeed. I feel very weighted by them sometimes. Everywhere we go, there are images to remind us of how we should look different. They tell us how we should do our hair, even what color it should be, what kinds of clothes we should wear, where we should buy them, what jewelry to wear, what shape we should be, what size we should be, and on and on and on.
There are so many magazines on beauty, I won't even venture a guess at how many. Americans love looking at beautiful people. We put them on our advertisements, TV shows and even on our bedroom walls. But then, when you're checking out your food from the grocery store (perhaps feeling a little guilty at the amount of ice cream in your cart), you can grab one of the tabloids that shows the favorite beautiful people, looking their worst. We feel better then. Even the beautiful have their bad hair days and can gain ten pounds.
We care so much. We believe the culture. We think we have to look a certain way to be beautiful. We value what the world thinks. But what does God think?
I know you've heard this verse a million times, but it's an important one. God Himself said, "For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." We know this, we hear it, we believe it, but we don't live it out.
How much time do we spend on maintaining our looks? Doing hair, taking showers, going clothes shopping, doing makeup, picking what to wear in the morning, working in order to pay for the clothes, exercising and working out... it all adds up to a lot. But how much time do we spend making our hearts beautiful? I've talked to so many people that say they can't read the Bible in a year, which takes about 15 minutes a day, but most people take that long to get showered and dressed in the morning. For the most part we focus on the outward more than the inward. And I say we. I am not immune to any of these problems. I struggle all the time with worrying what people think of how I look. But right here and now I'm saying that it's wrong. At the very least, it is a waste of time and energy.
What does God think is beautiful? He tells us in Romans 10:15, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" That is so powerful and wonderful. Wouldn't you like to be really beautiful? I would! I really want to put this into practice and spread the gospel and be beautiful in God's eyes and not just the cultures.
After all, cultural beauty is only for today, but real beauty lasts forever.