Charm is Deceitful

Charm is Deceitful

(Adapted from The Lost Art of True Beauty)

by Leslie Ludy | March 1, 2011

It wasn’t until I had a daughter that I began to fully realize how much women are naturally wired to use their feminine wiles in clever and strategic ways. My little girl, Harper, who just turned four, is one of the most adorable children on the planet. (I can say this without sounding overly prideful since we adopted her from Korea!) The problem is – she knows she’s adorable. She constantly attempts to use her feminine charm to get her own way. If she wants a cookie, she’ll plead, “Mama I weally need a cookie,” and display the cutest, most heart-melting pout on her chubby cheeks. If I am busy cleaning up the kitchen and she wants to be held, she’ll sidle up to my leg and croon in her most pitiful, helpless-puppy voice, “Mama? I weally need you to cuddle with me.” If she wants to protest being left with a babysitter, she’ll wrap her arms tightly around my neck and snuggle up against me with a forlorn expression, as if to say, “How can you possibly bear to leave such a sweet and cuddly child like me?” It’s all very calculated and clever.

Though we enjoy Harper’s cuteness, Eric and I have been very careful not to allow her charms to manipulate us. We never allow her to get her way when she uses these tactics. (Though I can’t say the same for grandparents, family friends, and even strangers at the grocery store! People we don’t even know frequently offer her candy or toys simply by seeing her tilt her head and grin at them.) But the amazing thing to me is that Harper somehow intrinsically knows how to use her femininity to twist someone’s arm – without ever being taught. Eric and I view these formative years as an opportunity to train Harper how to use her femininity to serve, rather than manipulate. Her little pout might seem adorable at the age of four. But it certainly will not be adorable at the age of sixteen. No matter how cute or innocent it seems now, it’s merely an evidence of her flesh at work, using her femininity for selfish purposes. That’s why this attitude needs to be purged from her through loving training and discipline.

But for all too many of us, these attitudes weren’t purged from us at a young age, and we grew into scheming, self-focused, manipulative young women. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful...” When we use our feminine qualities – our affection, our physical appearance, our personality, and our emotions – for selfish purposes, we become deceitful and manipulative. Often, without even realizing it, we try to control the people around us by the way we act. Instead of serving and meeting others’ needs, we are constantly in a power play for attention, approval, and position. And as I’ve said, we cannot reflect the glory of Christ when we are vying for the glory of self.

Scripture makes very clear the fact that deceitful feminine charm does not lead to true beauty. In order to become socially sensitive to those around us, we must learn to submit our feminine attributes to the Spirit of God rather than the control of our flesh. Before we look at some of the practical ways that we can excel at the art of social sensitivity, manipulation and selfishness must be purged from our existence.

Just as guys have a natural propensity toward lust, women often have a natural bent to manipulate and control others. Whether it takes the form of a center-stage personality, clever play-acting, or merely using subtlety and charm to twist someone’s arm, manipulation is something we all need to be vigilantly on the lookout for. When a sweet-looking little girl uses a pretty pout to get her way, it seems harmless and funny. But when manipulation is given the opportunity to grow and develop in a girl’s life, it becomes repulsive, ugly, and relentlessly destructive; not only to her life, but to the many other lives that she affects.

It’s impossible to reflect the glory of Jesus Christ while being controlling and manipulative. Allow the Spirit of God to gently reveal any ways in which you have been allowing manipulation into your life and behavior, in big or small ways. Here are a few questions that might help get you started:

Do I use my physical appearance to get attention?

Do I use my personality to draw people’s focus to myself?

Do I play emotional games to gain control over others (being moody, giving people the silent treatment when I’m upset, etc)?

Do I use gossip or criticism to gain control over others?

Do I continually turn the topic of conversation to focus on me?

Do I notice the quiet people around me or am I too busy taking center-stage?

Is the motive of my heart to bring glory to Jesus Christ or to gain attention and approval for myself?

You may find it helpful to write down anything that God speaks to your heart. If you discover any level of manipulation in your life, big or small, ask God to forgive you, cleanse you, and purge it from your life by the power of His Spirit. Ask Him to retrain your habits and attitudes. You may even want to write down specific ideas for how you can begin behaving different in certain relationships or situations. Consider recruiting the help of a trusted, godly accountability partner. Meet with this person regularly to pray about this area of your life and talk through the ways in which God is helping you change and grow. Remember, no matter how enslaved to wrong patterns you might feel, God is more than capable of transforming a controlling, manipulative female into a radiant, selfless, shining example of His beauty – all you must do is fully yield to His work.*

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