Imperishable Beauty

Imperishable Beauty

by Anonymous Warrior Poet | September 1, 2012

"Matthew, you have to wait your turn,” I quipped as he voiced his immediate want for a whole rectangle graham cracker. Matthew was one of the little boys in childcare last week at church. He seemed concerned about little more than the attention he gained in a room of eleven other toddlers. If another child had our attention, he immediately piped up about his architectural feat with the Lincoln Logs. If he noticed that I was reading a book to another child, he quickly came over and slid into the spot nearest the book. And if someone else had a cool costume on, he had to find an even cooler one. It was easy to excuse Matthew’s behavior because he was only three years old. But can you imagine such behavior from an adult?

Unfortunately, a young lady in our culture is taught from a young age – by media, friends, and even family – that it is profitable to draw attention to oneself. In accordance with such training, she constructs her adornment, her words, and her behavior to ensure that she is noticed. Most of what she does and says is designed to grab the attention of others. The declaration of her life is “Me! Me! Look at Me!”

A true warrior-poet does not regard such behavior. Just as he esteems and strives for the character of Christ to mark his life, he esteems a woman whose life is also undeniably marked by the same behavior.

In his first letter, Peter notes the following:

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV, emphasis mine).

Our society has confined modesty to a person’s outer garments, but God defines it on much broader terms. In the kingdom of heaven, modesty is not limited to external things, and neither is beauty. Immodesty is anything in a young lady’s life that would attempt to draw the gaze of others away from Christ. But modesty, and likewise, true beauty, is the gentle and quiet spirit that points every man and woman around her to the One who is most beautiful.

You will not find the woman a warrior-poet esteems, much less whom God esteems, “with the attire of a harlot and subtle of heart” (Prov. 7:10 KJV). A woman who is “subtle of heart” is one of craft and of guile, and her behavior is specifically tailored to turn the gaze of those around her from Christ and toward herself. A warrior-poet greatly esteems a gentle and quiet spirit, but Scripture tells a young lady to adorn herself with such behavior for a far more grand reason – because God esteems it; for “in God’s sight [it] is very precious.”

So, what does a gentle and quiet spirit look like practically?

I have noticed this behavior in the young lady who guards her conversation. She does not only omit one or two topics or simply have this disposition around certain people, but she consistently lives this out in all things. She keeps the sacred things in her life sacred by avoiding discussion of especially personal things with people who should not know them. Her conversation is void of gossip and slander. She has no pent-up anger or irritation at those who may have done her wrong, thus she has no malice or deceit in her heart.

I have seen the gentle and quiet spirit in the girl who uses social media only to the end of glorifying Jesus Christ. Her guard goes far beyond mere verbal exchanges, and just as in conversation, she does not post every frustration or victory in her life for all to see. In the same way, she does not entertain (or rather, “like”) things that bring applause to men or are contrary to Truth.

The gentle and quiet spirit is one who spends her mornings – her entire life, actually – not building some artificial allure or attempting to look the most beautiful, but in pursuit of her King. Her clothing is not what makes her beautiful – Christ is.

I am not advocating that any young lady stop taking care of herself. But I am saying that a young lady’s greatest obsession ought to be Christ, and not her physical appearance. She ought to spend the better hours of her morning seeking Him, not physical beauty. The life spent seeking temporal beauty attains its end, but the life spent seeking the Lord attains imperishable beauty.

The calling to this behavior, however, goes much deeper than mere beauty. When Peter defines a gentle and quiet spirit as one of “imperishable beauty,” he is alluding to chapter one of his first epistle, “...you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23 ESV).

The “living and abiding Word of God” is Jesus Christ, and we have been born of His incorruptible seed, He having crucified the corruptible seed of Adam. So, it is not this gentle and quiet spirit that produces lasting beauty; rather it is an outflow of the transforming life of Jesus Christ. It is the mark of the life that has been radically altered by the Gospel – this is the life also that is graced with enduring beauty.

Undying beauty, however, is not attained by mere discipline or determination. The meek and quiet spirit is not bestowed upon those who are most committed to humility. And though we are called to discipline our time and actions, the Gospel does not transform the committed ones, but rather, the ones full of unwavering faith. If we read a bit further in the passage in first Peter, we find one defining quality – a prerequisite for the woman with a gentle and quiet spirit: hope in God (see 1 Peter 3:5 ESV).

The young lady whose confidence is placed in the person of Jesus Christ is one of imperishable beauty. Her hope is not in the conditions around her, the success of her endeavors for Christ, the stability of her family, or even the fruition of a God-written love story. Rather, her hope is in God, the work of the cross, and the promises of the Bible.

So, the clothing of a woman of faith is not a gentle and quiet spirit or imperishable beauty. These are merely an outflow of the clothing of a Christian, which is Christ (see Rom. 13:14, Gal. 3:27, and Job 29:14). You see, Christ is the source of all these things.

A branch does not attain the attributes of the vine apart from the vine. Neither will you attain beauty apart from Christ. The branch only bears fruit because of the vine’s provisions, and the fruit is always in keeping with the vine’s nature. If your hope is in God, and your foundation is Christ, your clothing is Christ and all the attributes thereof. His righteousness will become yours, His beauty, yours; His life, yours; His Spirit, yours.

A young lady who is given to the purposes of Jesus Christ – whose hope is in God – is marked by a gentle and quiet spirit, and it is to her givenness that Peter credits as “imperishable beauty.” So, let me ask you a question, one that I pose to myself often: Is there anything in your life that draws the attention of others away from Christ?

A woman of imperishable beauty speaks of Christ, dresses to draw attention only to Christ, and lives to bring Him glory. Such a life is hidden in Christ, and it is from His life that beauty is derived and displayed through the yielded vessel. Only He can build a man or woman of upright character.

Now, I am only a warrior-poet-in-the-making, but I esteem someone who is willing to live her life unseen and unnoticed so that Jesus Christ may be seen and noticed through her, a lady whose conversation is characterized by a concern for others and love for the Lord, whose unfailing declaration is “Christ! Christ! Look to Him!” Such is the young lady who exemplifies the imperishable, enduring, immeasurable beauty of Christ.*

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