As I was reading from our main Scripture today, 1 Peter 3, I was drawn to verse 4 which says, “For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:4 TPT. Oh! How the words “precious in God’s sight” jumped off of the page and into my spirit. There is so much tenderness in those words. It is honey on my lips and harmony to my ears to say it and hear it. It is a revelation for how we, as women, can please our Heavenly Father through our character.
Today, we will learn how it is not the outward beauty that God looks upon, but it is our hearts and the quality of our spirits that brings God the most pleasure and brings us the greatest reward.
Let us first learn how to let go of what is on the outside.
I know it is difficult in this materialistic and looks-obsessed world that we live in, to not think about our outward appearance.
As women, we are bombarded every day and from every outlet with messages about our appearance. Most of what we are told is that we are not good enough and that this product or that product will make it better.
Sometimes, an already fragile self-esteem can be damaged even further by this barrage of ammunition that the media uses to attack us with no relent.
Psychologists have been studying this for years and many have come to the conclusion that women do not dress to impress men, they dress to impress each other.
Many women in America today admit that they are more concerned with what the girl at the table next to them at the restaurant thinks about her outfit more than what her husband thinks of it. Why do we spend so much effort trying to impress other women? Why do we often feel judged by other women?
I will admit that there have been many times when I felt like I was being judged by other women—and not just in the world, but in the Church. This should not be. We need to rise above the pettiness and lift each other up, not tear each other down.
YouTube and Pinterest are filled with tutorials and ideas on how to dress, wear your hair, do your nails, fix your makeup—it can be so easy to get caught up in the maintenance of the exterior, that we forget that this is not what God is looking at when He is looking at us.
Once we are able to release the trappings of the external, we can focus on the internal; we can focus on the heart.
It’s All About the Heart
As Christian moms and as women, we are called to be set apart; in the world but not of the world. I am not suggesting that it is a sin to want to dress nice, to get your hair done, to get a manicure, or to wear nice shoes (I love shoes!).
What I am saying is that God’s desire for us is to recognize that our beauty does not come from what we look like on the outside; it comes from what’s in our hearts.
I have known many women who were physically beautiful until they opened their mouths to speak. Out of their mouths came slander, gossip, and foul language.( “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34). Have you ever encountered this; after witnessing how a beautiful woman speaks or behaves, suddenly their physical beauty is not so appealing?
It has taken me many years and much spiritual growth to come to a place in my life where I no longer care what others think of me. All I care about is what GOD thinks of me. I can be in sweats and a T-shirt ,with no makeup, and my hair in a messy bun, but if my heart is right, I know that God sees me as beautiful.
There is nothing better than that.
This is why God desires for us to learn about godly womanhood and the characteristics that help define it.
God’s Desires for Us
Here, in our main Scripture from 1 Peter 3, God’s gives us some indication of the qualities he is looking for in his beautiful daughters.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:3-6.
I used to tell my daughters when they were little and they were around a baby or an object that was breakable that they needed to be gentle. I taught them that they needed to show respect and sweetness for something that is delicate and fragile.
One common misconception is that gentleness means weakness or passivity. Actually the opposite is true. Biblical gentleness, as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, requires strength and self-control. Gentleness comes from a place of humility that is softened by the grace of God.
As an introvert, this quality has never been difficult for me. But for my extroverts out there, you many cringe when you see this one—but don’t! God is not saying that you shouldn’t speak.
What he is saying is that you should take care how you speak. Biblical quietness refers to wise speech and kind actions that develop as you become more confident in the Lord.
There are times when we should speak up and times when we should stay quiet. This comes from wisdom. There is strength in quietness. (“In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15). The sun falls silently upon the earth all day, but what immeasurable strength lies in its rays. The dew falls silently on the grass during the night while we sleep, but what power it has to touch every plant and flower and blade of grass with new life and nourishment.
I think back to so many birthdays celebrated and so many candles blazing and dripping wax onto sugary icing. “Make a wish.” I would say to my girls after the song was sung and they took a deep breath to blow those candles out.
But wishes and hope are not the same. God is not a genie in a bottle waiting to give us all the things that we want. As a matter of fact, he often doesn’t give us what we wish for and this can leave us feeling confused and discouraged.
Hope is trusting in the absolute sovereignty of God over our lives. Hope is not natural for us. It is something that we must fight , struggle, and wrestle with everyday. John Piper calls it, “our reservoir of emotional strength”.
It is not just that we desire for good things to happen to us. It is the confident expectation that God is working to make those things happen—even if the outcome looks different than what we imagined.
Faithfulness goes beyond just believing in God. For it is one thing to believe in God, it is another to have faith in God. Faith requires a confidence and an assurance about things that we do not see.
I have been through some hard things with my children—things I did not understand or expect. I could allow these things to make me walk away from God or to pull closer to him—my choice. But if I walk away, where would I go? And so I stand on his Word and his promises and I believe that what he says is true. I believe he is working all things together for their good (Romans 8:28).
I believe that we have raised our children in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart. (Proverbs 22:6.)
As a young mom, I spent too much time gripped with fear. Most of my fear stemmed from my insecurity that I would do something to mess my children up for the rest of their lives. We all know that there is no manual for this. We do the best that we can with what we know.
God doesn’t not want to live in fear. He wants us to walk in confidence that no matter what we face, what trial comes our way, we are not alone and we need not fear.
When God told Joshua that he was now going to have lead the people into the promised land, he must have sensed the fear in Joshua, for three times he commanded him to “fear not.” If God brings you to something during your walk in motherhood, just know that God is with you, as he was with Joshua.
There are many things that God desires for us as women and as mothers. I pray that these five examples give you the strength to keep going and to stay the course. Life is sweeter with Jesus. I would have never made it through the mothering years without Jesus by my side.
Remember, it’s all about the heart. You are beautiful just as you are.
Below, you will find a handy infographic that summarizes what we have learned today.
I pray this message blesses you!
Susie O’Neal and the Help Club for Moms Team
To connect more with Susie at Between the Gardens, please go to susieoneal.org