|True Beauty: Without or Within?
"Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work... thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didn't prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, said the Lord God" (Ezek. 16:13-14). The children of Israel were known for their beauty when they followed God. As long as they kept their eyes on Him, He blessed them. He joyed in them and "likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman" (Jer. 6:2).
Israel should have been content with God's provisions for her, but she "trust[ed] in [her] own beauty, and [played] the harlot" (Ezek. 16:15). When she succumbed to pride in her beauty, God told her He would "cast [her] to the ground" )Ezek. 28:17). He called her "foolish...sottish children...wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge" (Jer. 4:22).
The beauty God had given His children was intended for His glory, but Israel flaunted it for her own personal pride. She turned to adultery for a time, but eventually her lovers turned away when they saw her fickleness. In Jeremiah 4:30, God tells her, "In vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee." Israel's beauty compassed only her outward being and did not penetrate down to her soul.
Outward physical beauty may only hide inward spiritual corruption. A typical example of this principle is stated in Matthew 23:27-28, where Christ said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
Beauty can't be only skin deep; it has to penetrate to the heart. Beauty should be grounded in "the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:3). True beauty is found inside a person and will be shown in his lifestyle; it is not necessarily shown in the physical features of a person.
"The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). When God looks for beauty, He checks out our hearts to see what condition they're in. Psalm 51:6 says, "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom." We will obtain spiritual beauty when our hearts are cleansed with Jesus' blood and made free from sin. As Proverbs 31:30 says, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."