Today's Encouraging Word is directed more towards the young, especially the girls.
In a time where it would seem a cosmetics company would be more interested in convincing women and teenage girls that they REALLY NEED a particular shade of blush or lipstick, Dove did something entirely different...it began telling girls that they were beautiful the way they were.
Some of you may remember a particular television commercial that began playing earlier this year. As a children's chorus sings the popular song "True Colors", different pictures of girls are shown. Most of the pictures have a caption describing what that particular girl wishes was different about her, be it a different hair color, a different weight, or even a different complexion. And yet in each case, there was nothing horribly wrong with the way the girls looked. That was the point; the desire to be different - or conform to what someone else said was beautiful - prevents one from appreciating who she really is.
This was how Dove began the Campaign For Real Beauty, an effort to bolster and increase a major factor that's coming up short in today's young female
population: self-esteem. It would seem that today's fashion industry sends out a signal that being beautiful requires looking JUST SO...and since there are millions of individuals out there, not everyone is going to match up to that JUST SO. In fact, the concept of JUST SO is very nebulous; beauty and handsomeness has been defined very differently throughout the ages. And every time it changes, there seems to be a rush to latch on to the new style, and try to reach that JUST SO. Of course, many who try will fall short, and will be crushed.
But it doesn't have to be that way. That is the point of the Campaign. If so much time is spent and anxiety stirred up over appearance alone, other qualities in a person become neglected. These can include humor, talent, intellect, helpfulness, and an entire host of others. Believe it or not, looks are only one part of the equation. How we present ourselves depends on all the rest, and that is how we are defined.
And, of course, there is a spiritual side to this as well. What is God looking for in us?
Consider, for example, the story of David. Saul had failed as king, and thus God commanded Samuel to seek out a new king among the sons of Jesse. In 1 Samuel 16, from verse 6, we see how God's standards and man's standards for picking a king are different.
And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.But Yahweh said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for Yahweh seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looketh on the heart.
It wasn't until Samuel saw the youngest son, David, that God commanded Samuel to anoint him. David has been spoken of as "a man after God's own heart." It was how David would handle himself that God looked to. As a person, he did make mistakes. But he would then seek unto God with much effort, wanting to be reconciled with Him again. That was the true beauty of this king.
Think of David's grandmother, Ruth. She was from Moab, and had been married to the son of a Hebrew woman named Naomi. When her husband died and Naomi returned to Israel, Ruth insisted that she go along and care for her mother-in-law. Eventually she would meet and marry a man named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi's.
Now, I looked over the entire book of Ruth, and not once did I read anything about how she looked. Perhaps she was beautiful, but we are not told. One way or another, Boaz took notice of her. He insisted that she glean barley in the safety of his fields, and demanded that his workers not harass her in any way. He invited her to join them during mealtimes. When Ruth asked why she was worthy of all this attention. In chapter 2, verses 11-12, Boaz tell
It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. Yahweh recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of Yahweh Elohim of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
That is what attracted Boaz's attention. Here was a foreigner who had given up everything of her former culture to care for a mother-in-law, even putting herself to the hard task of harvest gleaning. Her actions and her love for Naomi are what makes her beautiful.
In Proverbs chapter 31, a king named Lemuel discusses an ideal he calls the Virtuous Woman:
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth Yahweh, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Again, it is not beauty which makes this woman attractive to Lemuel; in fact, verse 30 warns against it. Rather, this was a woman whose kindness, generosity, and industriousness provided for and cheered the hearts of many.
It was not only for many that she did these things, but it was also for love of God. And to many, this made her beautiful.
Finally, when Paul was discussing with Timothy how to instruct women in godliness, he advises in 1 Timothy 2, from verse 9:
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
It is all a common theme here: spiritual beauty through one's actions is far greater than natural beauty.
Now, I do want to make one thing abundantly clear. I am NOT, in any way, saying that being beautiful is an evil thing. I am NOT saying that caring for appearance should just be cast off; after all, we are to care for ourselves as lively stones in the Temple of God. But I am approaching this in the same way as I would say that it is not evil to have plenty of money.
It is only when concern for such becomes a great and overriding factor that you cannot think of anything else. To do so is to become the thorns in the sower's field; any increase that the word of God might provide is being choked out by a worldly and ultimately unimportant care.
It is your heart and mind that must be beautiful. Discover the talent or talents that you possess, and develop them. Make yourself strong with the Word of God, and understand what it means to be a member of an Ecclesia.
Show your friends in the Truth and even without who you ARE, and not just what you look like.
That is where your true beauty will be shown. Let the world carry on with it's standards and ideals about what is pretty and what is not. The hope of the Kingdom of God will forever be more beautiful than anything they can come up with.
Love in Christ,
The website for the Campaign For Real Beauty is Click Here , and I feel it is worth a look. Please keep in mind, however, that it is still of the world, and many things said will require being taken with a grain of salt. As such, I encourage mothers to join their daughters in looking at this site - even making the first visit - and take the time to discuss the differences between natural and spiritual beauty.