When I was studying for the last post (A Letter to the Girl Who Doubts Her Beauty), two patterns in Scripture caught my attention. The first pattern was that most verses addressing beauty speak of the heart, and not the body. In fact, it was almost impossible for me to find verses that emphasized outward appearance.
Often we get so wrapped up in how we feel about our bodies, that we forget to work on the inside. We forget what really matters to God because we’re too busy trying to find verses that convince us of how gorgeous we are on the outside (*which often leads to taking verses out of context). Don’t get me wrong–I believe God treasures our bodies and we should too. But our physical beauty isn’t the focus of Scripture. Spiritual beauty is (We’ll get to that in a second).
*Note: It’s easy to take the Bible out of context to make it mean what we want it to. That’s why it’s important to look at the surrounding passages to make sure we don’t speak out of turn. When I researched Song of Solomon 4:7 (a verse many use to say that God thinks we are stunningly flawless), I realized that’s not what the verse is about at all. Song of Solomon is a love letter from Solomon to his wife. Context is key!
The second pattern I noticed is that God often chastised people who took pride in their outward appearance. He acknowledged the beauty or handsomeness of certain people (such as Esther, Joseph, and Solomon), but He didn’t emphasize that attractiveness. And, when people did emphasize their looks, God corrected them.
With those things in mind, let’s jump into this post 🙂
–> We’ll be going through a lot of verses today, so stick with me 😉
Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Great news, huh? By human nature, we were all born with nasty hearts, so our work is cut out for us. God treasures a beautiful heart (1 Peter 3:4), and we must defy human nature to obtain the loveliness Christ desires in us.
When it comes right down to it, the key to a beautiful heart is Christlikeness. After all, His heart is the purest example of beauty. (2 Corinthians 4:6). But…what exactly does Jesus’ heart look like? The list is endless, but read through the gospels and you’ll see humility, compassion, honesty, strength, generosity, and so much more.
I don’t know about you, but my heart is a mess, and it needs repair. While none of us will ever obtain the perfect character of Jesus, we can try our best to be like Him.
So, here are 6 ways to get us started…
1) Prioritize Spiritual growth
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV).
Spiritual growth is the key to a strong heart. Knowing Him and walking with Him daily beautifies our hearts in a way nothing else could.
2) Cultivate lovely thoughts
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, ESV).
I’ll be honest with you…my mind is my biggest weakness. Often I use it as a haven for sin instead of a haven for Jesus, and that never ends well. Can you relate?
The battle of the mind is constant and, I think, so difficult to fight because we’re tempted to excuse what goes on in our heads. We dismiss the provocative or ill-willed thoughts because no one can see them. Our sin is locked up safe inside our heads. But, according to Philippians 4:8, what we think matters, and we must be extremely careful with what we allow to enter our heads. What we think dictates how we live, and it influences our walk with God. When we allow sin to build up inside, we’re giving Satan the upper-hand in battle.
Reject lies, abandon lust, mute cursing or hatred in your mind. Fill your head with Jesus’ voice, and your heart will follow.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, ESV).
Because our hearts and minds are intertwined, we must fill our minds with good things, so they can feed our hearts the loveliness they need.
3) Regularly confess sin
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”
Our hearts can’t be pretty if sin is stuck in the nooks and crannies!
I know it’s easy to hide sin in our hearts. We don’t want to get the muck out because it’s humiliating to admit when we’ve messed up…again. But, I’m learning that even though confessing my failures to God can be painful, trying to hide my mistakes hurts even more. It’s like a little kid covering his eyes and saying, “You can’t see me!” when really, his parent sees him completely.
Whether we confess or not, God sees us. He knows our actions, and trying to hide the truth only results in broken fellowship with Him. When we sin, we distance ourselves from God. When we refuse to confess, we deprive ourselves of a vulnerable, trusting relationship with Him.
Regularly confess and ask Jesus to cleanse away your sin so your inner beauty isn’t polluted. God loves you so much, and wants you to come to Him for help. He will never turn you away. He is faithful to forgive, and faithful to renovate our hearts.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV).
4) Be others-focused
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5, ESV).
Next to maintaining a pure mind, this has to be the hardest one for me. I love serving at my church through music and children’s ministries…but as soon as you ask me to move outside my comfort zone…well, being a servant is suddenly a lot harder than I expected. I feel uncomfortable. Out of place. Insecure. Sometimes even frustrated and down-right opposed to the task assigned to me.
And you know what? That’s exactly what servanthood is.
Being others-focused often means getting uncomfortable. It means loving and caring for people we’re not used to paying attention to. It means minimizing ourselves, so we can magnify those around us (Philippians 2:3-4).
Jesus specialized in tending to the pains of others…to the point of torture and death on a cross. He displayed the highest example of a servant’s heart when He did our work for us. When He set us free from the debt we owed. It’s only fair that we follow in His footsteps. And, fortunate for us, God provided the perfect guideline to help us. Look up Galatians 5, and you’ll find it 🙂
A God-fearing heart will reflect God’s attributes. Have a kind heart. A gentle heart. A servant’s heart.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18, ESV).
5) Be honest with yourself
What does your heart believe? Do you feed it truth?
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b, ESV).
Honesty starts within, and if we are dishonest with ourselves, we’ll be dishonest with others. If we believe the lies Satan throws at us, we will live according to those lies: In insecurity, fear, or even sin.
When we cheat ourselves out of the truth of God’s love and His word, our intentions–our feelings–are twisted and ruined. What we believe in our hearts will eventually come out in our words and actions.
Cling to the truths of Scripture and ask Jesus to give you an honest, sincere heart. Because that, sweet friend, is a rare treasure.
6) Pray for grace in the not-so-pretty parts of your heart
Cultivating a beautiful heart is a daily task, and at times it will feel unbearable. But believe me when I say the struggle is worth the fruit.
Friend, Jesus is ready and able to help you in your weaknesses. Don’t shy away when you need His help.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV).
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, ESV).
There is truly nothing more valuable than a heart that reflects the character of Jesus. The more you conform to His image, the more beautiful you become…and no one can steal that beauty from you. ❤
Let’s work on cultivating beautiful hearts together, okay?
P.S. For more reminders and encouragement, check out my Pinterest board on authentic beauty. I hope it helps you as much as it does me. 🙂