Thursday, 19 July 2012

Taking care of your appearance...

This may seem like a strange one to put in with tips on how to manage your physical life, but actually this can make a big difference. When we look at the Biblical examples for this discipline, it is easy to see that the Bible has lots more verses on why NOT to focus on our outward appearance than verses encouraging us to take care of what we look like…

So why did Elizabeth include it? And why do I agree with her? After all, I know that when I have my nails nicely painted (or false nails on for a special occasion) and my hair and make-up done, that I feel thinner, better and more confident… is that wrong?

Firstly, we have got to be careful that we don’t take this too far and end up focusing so much on what we are wearing or what we look like that we miss the main point of glorifying God altogether. 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying,
our spirits are being renewed every day.”

The truth is that our bodies are dying. With every year that passes we can see the human effects of the ageing process. By the time we reach 90 (DV) the lines around our mouths or the crows feet between our eyebrows will tell of a life lived to the full with plenty of smiles and probably a few frowns along the way. But at some stage our bodies will give up. Unfortunately for some this happens sooner rather than later, but we all know that God has numbered our days and that His timing is perfect.  And the main point of this is that while our bodies are dying, God lifts our spirits up, renewing them each and every day we spend in His presence, relying on His love, power and mercies.

The next thing we need to remember is that, as Christians and part of a body of believers, we need to think about other people as well as thinking about ourselves when we chose what to wear and how to present ourselves. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says

“And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”

And 1 Peter 3:3-4 says

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewellery, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”

The important part here is to remember that God hasn’t told us not to look after ourselves or spend time on making sure we look and feel good – just that we aren’t to be so focused on that, that it becomes a false god or something that becomes a stumbling block to someone else. For example – if you go into church and you’ve decided to wear something that is dirty and has an odour, it’s likely to be just as distracting as someone who is all dolled up and looks like they are going to see the Queen. But also, if you decide to put on a skirt that just about covers your behind, or a dress that is slightly see-through, then how is that going to help the men of the congregation to focus on God, or the person sitting behind you to focus on their own time of worship? Let’s face it – it just isn’t. We need to dress in a manner that brings glory to God – by making sure that nothing we wear is going to be offensive, too short, too revealing or something that could be a stumbling block for someone you are worshipping with or doing life with.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Taking care with your appearance and making sure that you make the most of your God-given looks can be something that glorifies God as much as not trying or trying too hard can bring the opposite. We are given lots of examples of women in the Bible who were described as beautiful, and as we are all made in the image of God, then He also thinks each and every one of us is beautiful – whether you can see it or not.

In Genesis 12:11, Sarah is described as being “…a very beautiful woman”. Rebekah was also very beautiful (Genesis 24:16) and Rachel had “…a beautiful figure and a lovely face.” (Genesis 29:17). That’s not to mention Esther, who we all know was described throughout the book as being beautiful and the one girl who found favour, not only with the King but with everyone who met her.

When we take the time to take care of our appearance and dress in an appropriate but beautiful way, we can truly bring honour and glory to our King, especially since the true beauty of our relationship with Him shines through us to the world we live in.

So next time you’re going out, think about what you are planning to wear and think about who you are going to be with…
And above all - keep shining… J

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