Remembering My Creator: Volume 1, Number 11, December 2011

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 11

Theme: How I Look

In This Issue:

  • “Using the World’s Standard to Evaluate Beauty (Proverbs 31:30; 1st Samuel 16:7)” by Randy Sexton
  • “The Hidden Beauty of the Heart (1st Peter 3:1-6)” by David Deuster
  • “Spiritual Adornment (1st Timothy 2:8-10)” by David Bushnaq
  • “Bodybuilding and Other Attempts to Draw Attention to the Physical Body” by Randy Sexton

Using the World’s Standard to Evaluate Beauty

By Randy Sexton

 

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the lord, she shall be praised,” says Solomon as he concludes his description of the worthy woman (Proverbs 31:30). Jess MacCullum in his book, I Married Wonder Woman … Now What, subtitled A Superhero’s guide for Leading and Loving the Proverbs 31 Wife, adds a little humor to the analysis. He says in the introduction, “What on earth would that kind of woman see in a man like me? And what kind of a superman would I have to become to keep ahead of a wife like this? … I scramble to lead and encourage the ‘little (wonder) woman.’ Far from being intimidated by her, I am eager to give my wonder woman a man she can call a hero.”

Mr. MacCallum proceeds to describe 12 principles “for loving and leading the Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman for a lifetime.” These principles include:

  1. Value you wife above everything (v. 10)
  2. Trust your wife and reap the benefits (vv. 11-12)
  3. Provide for the family with more than money (vv. 13-15)
  4. Don’t be afraid of her independence or intimidated by her success (vv. 16, 24)
  5. Appreciate her intelligence, ambition and drive (vv. 17-19)
  6. Be unselfish like her and with her (v. 20)
  7. Respect your wife’s household management without meddling (vv. 21-22, 27)
  8. Take pride in being known by her reputation (v. 23)
  9. Actually listen when she speaks (vv. 25-26)
  10. Praise her and teach your children to praise her (v. 30)
  11. Focus on what God finds attractive and praiseworthy (v. 30)
  12. Brag about her in public

In his comments on the 10th principle he says, “Feminine beauty is a particularly wobbly concept when you think about it. It changes from year to year, culture to culture, and magazine cover to magazine cover… the list of absurd things that people will do to get, or keep, beauty is truly endless. From ancient Japenese women grinding iron filings into their teeth to create a gorgeous black smile, to Victorian ladies in corsets that literally squeezed their internal organs into an hourglass figure, to Hollywood has-beens with more face-lifts than ex-husbands – beauty has ruled the senseless. And men have prized it above reason and valued it entirely out of proportion” (pp. 102 – 103).

Mr. MacCallum’s book is directed to husbands and many of his comments hit the male part of the species hard because of our propensity to be distracted by attractive women. As he says, “beautiful girls make us stupid, frequently robbing us of the power of speech, eye control and financial judgement …” (p. 101)

Though Proverbs 31:10ff is labeled by its author as characteristics of an “excellent wife” (NASB), the attributes are worthy of us all. They “set the bar,” according to the divine standard, far above what the world sets! The world says charm and beauty is what is important. God says this is not the true standard. God, through His servant Peter says, “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1st Peter 3:4). God reminded his servant Samuel, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

As you progress through your teenage years and into your twenties, you my be faced with challenging situations, as you evaluate your dating options. You may be tempted to lose your perspective on the value of inner versus outer beauty. You may have to guard yourself against the approach described in Proverbs 7:21, “So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery” (NLT). When you face those times, may you remember “the fear of the Lord” is the true basis for praise.

 

The Hidden Beauty of the Heart

By David Deuster

Peter writes to Christians living in a hostile society. His words are directed toward encouraging them on how to live in the midst of a hostile society and how to conduct themselves in a world set against them. The main directive he offers throughout the letter is to focus on those things that are spiritual and to keep their minds focused on things eternal, not getting caught up in the pleasures that the world has to offer. In chapter 1, he calls upon his readers to remember their great salvation. Secondly, he admonishes them to remember their example before men. Finally, he encourages them by a call to look to the coming of Christ. It is within the second of these points that the apostle addresses how to maintain our example in society, in our place of employment and also within our family relationships. His reasoning for this is stated in 1 Peter 2:12 where he writes, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” His desire is that these brethren would display the gospel through their lives so that others might be led to salvation.

It is within this context that we approach 1 Peter 3, where the apostle addresses the marriage relationship of a believer and non-believer. The encouragement is that through godly conduct on the part of the believer that the non-believer could be won to Christ and themselves “glorify God in the day of visitation.” While not everyone will be able to make specific application to this situation, there are several principles that are present that are to govern the lives of Christians of all ages.

CONDUCT MUST BE ANSWERABLE TO OUR PROFESSION OF FAITH

If we are to have an impact in our culture, we must submit to the social order, structure and the social patterns that God has designed. This requires having an attitude of submission that follows the example of our high priest, Jesus Christ (cf 2:21-25). This type of submissiveness involves at least four things: First, it begins with an attitude of entrusting oneself to God (cf. 2:23-25). The focus of our life must be on Jesus Christ. Second, submission requires respectful behavior (3:1-2). Nagging is not respectful behavior. Third, submission involves the development of a godly character (3:3-5). Fourth, submission includes doing what is right (3:6).

What is the result of this type of humble disposition? The unbeliever may be won to Christ. Note that he is not saying they will be saved without the word (1:23; Rom 1:16). The term “observe” was used of eyewitnesses (also in 1 Pt 2:12). Peter says that the unbeliever will be won by chaste behavior coupled with fear. One’s walk of life, in accordance with the teaching of Christ, becomes and example and will be the persuasive argument. In essence, it is more important what you are than what you say. The apostle further admonishes them to regard outward ornamentation as worthless in comparison with the adornment of the Christian’s character, which alone determine one’s worth in God’s sight. In comparison, we are called upon to clothe ourselves in “chaste conversation.” Kittle comments that this “originally purely externally religious concept now acquires a more ethical and inward significance; It signifies “moral purity and sincerity,” as in relation to Christ; According to 1 Pt. 1:17; 3:2, the “walk” of Christians is shaped by fear of God; according to 3:1, this can have an effect without words simply through good deeds, cf. 2:12; Jm. 3:13.”[1] This is the effect of being salt and light. Our lives are to be a reflection of God’s glory.

THE PART: “THE HIDDEN MAN OF THE HEART”

The contrast Peter makes in the text is between the inward person of the heart and the external ornamentation. Our adorning is focused inward. The term “adorning” is kosmos in the Greek, English words “cosmos” (the ordered universe) and “cosmetic.” It is the opposite of chaos. There is an implied contrast between the changing styles of the world (cf. v. 3) and the settled character of a redeemed life that adorns the spirit of a Christian. In Romans 12:2 Paul exhorts the saints, “Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is it representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God”.[2] We are to present ourselves a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, no longer fashioned according to the world, its mannerisms, speech expressions, styles or habits. Being “conformed to this world” is the action of an individual assuming an outward expression that does not come from within him, and it is not representative of his inner heart life.[3] Instead of using the guidelines of the world, we must learn to use the guidelines of the Word.

Your inner person is reflected on the outside (cf 1 Tim 2:8-10). Often times when we consider the subject of modesty, the focus usually centers on the visible characteristics of clothing. However, modesty is not first an issue of clothing. Just as Peter and Paul agree, submissiveness and modest living is first and issue of the heart. Anyone can wear modest clothing, however until the heart is transformed, one cannot truly be classified as a modest person.

Prior to Paul’s discussion of submission and modesty in 1 Timothy 2:8-10, the apostle reminds his readers of the sacrifice of life they offer unto God. Here we learn an important connection with our adornment of the heart to the death of Christ. Modesty is a reflection of our own death and resurrection. We died to the world and its values, and as a result, pride and arrogance are replaced with humility and joy. When Christians cultivate their spiritual lives and properly restrain their thoughts, passions, affections, etc., they portray an inner modesty and shame fastness that is reflective of their relationship to God. There will not be the vanity of life shown purely in outward adornment.

THE ORNAMENT: “NOT CORRUPTIBLE… A MEEK AND QUIET SPIRIT”

Our spirit is imperishable whereas the hair, jewelry and clothing that adorn the body are perishable. Glamour is artificial and external; true beauty is real and internal. Glamour is something a person can put on and take off, but true beauty is always present. Glamour is corruptible; it decays and fades. True beauty from the heart grows more wonderful as the years pass.

The hidden beauty of the heart is described as an “imperishable quality.” It is the same description Peter uses to speak of God’s imperishable inheritance, which He guards for believers in Heaven (i.e. 1:4) and of believers being born again of imperishable seed (i.e. 1:23). Paul uses this same term of our new resurrection bodies in 1 Corinthians 15 and of believers’ incorruptible crown in 1 Corinthians 9:25.

The hidden beauty of the heart is a “Meek and Quiet spirit.” Vine defines that spirit as “the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.” It is a life that has fully denied self, taken up the cross and chosen to follow after Christ in humility and submission to the will of the Father.

THE VALUE: “IN THE SIGHT OF GOD OF GREAT PRICE”

The chief adornment of the Christian should be the Lord Jesus, manifested in and through the life of the believer. There is no greater gift that we can offer unto God than our life. The value of servitude in the Lord’s kingdom far exceeds the value of any clothing or jewelry the world can provide. In the sight of God such a life is of great price, “being of great value or worth, ordinarily of relatively high degree on a monetary scale, (very) expensive, costly.”[4] The Lord Jesus will be seen in our life, and our physical adornment will reflect Him. This is the ideal God-glorifying procedure upon the basis of which a Christian should act in the manner of personal adornment.

Through the gospel we become attractive in the right way. First, through being adorned with “proper clothing.” Second, through the “hidden person of the heart.” Have you clothed yourself in such fashion? If you have, then you are being transformed from the inside out. You are no longer of this world, its values, fashions, etc. Your citizenship is in Heaven, and it will be manifest in your appearance.


[1] Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.)

[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 12:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 12:2). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[4] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (850). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Spiritual Adornment

By David Bushnaq

As requested, this is an article on 1 Timothy 2: 8-10. In these verses the Apostle Paul is telling the young preacher, Timothy how one should behave in the assembly. The verses in this case refer to adorning oneself in modesty and in self control, not with costly attire, but with what is proper for good works. Of course, what’s true for women is also true for men.

Now we know what Paul means when he’s bringing this to Timothy, but while we consider this physical adornment, what about our spiritual adornment?

Clothes are one of the first things people notice about us. Our clothes tell a lot about who we are as a person. We know that we, as Christians, are to dress with modesty and with self control, but what about our spiritual clothing?

While we are at church, we are naturally dressed in our best. We know we’re doing this to encourage ourselves, our brethren, but more than that, we are doing this to please God. But how are we dressed at work? At home? Our spirituality could slack in those more relaxed environments.

Our clothes show who we are. Many times we look at ourselves in the mirror to make sure what we’re wearing is appropriate for where we are about to go. We wear different outfits devoted to work, play, or relaxing at home. Our aim is to look our best to others, but how do we look spiritually?

Our example is one of the tools we can use as Christians to lead others to Christ. It could also be one of the biggest pitfalls we could have against us if we aren’t careful. As such we are to always make sure we take our spiritual outfits into consideration just as much as our physical.

Paul mentions not to wear “costly array,” which of course is referring to expensive jewelry or accessories to make us look more luxurious [or just more appealing] than we really are. Many people today wear t-shirts, crosses, wrist bands, and other accessories to show how “godly” they are, but are they really? Our example can tell people a lot more about us, and our Christianity, than some trinkets that bear religious themes on them.

So then, how is one to dress spiritually? Verse 10 gives us the answer. We are to do good works, which are proper for those who profess God. Actions speak louder than words and as such, we are to always make sure our Christianity is one of the first things people notice about us. It’s just as flattering as a well-chosen outfit.

While we may not realize it, people do notice how we dress, so much more so with our spiritual adornment as well. You never know who could come up to you and ask you a question about Jesus because they know you are a devout Christian and that could be the doorway you needed to teach them of His love!

Imagine yourself looking into a spiritual mirror now. How would you look? Would you be wearing Godly clothes, or spiritual? How much skin would you be showing? [By skin, I mean traces of worldliness]. How is your spiritual adornment at work? Hanging out with friends?

Please continue to keep this in mind [as I do] and remember that, while clothes don’t make the man, they often do make people’s first impression of you. If someone you’ve never met before came up to you and saw your spiritual adornment manifested as your physical clothing, what would they think? Would you be ashamed to be seen outside wearing it, or would you proudly display your Christianity for others to see?

Bodybuilding and Other Attempts to Draw Attention to the Physical Body

By Randy Sexton

Have you ever thought about whether a Christian should be a bodybuilder? Is there a conflict between wanting to get in shape – to have “ripped abs” and “bulging biceps” – and in having a proper perspective of inner versus outer beauty?

I must admit that I have no personal experience from which to speak about being a “body builder.” I have over the years tried to maintain some type of fitness routine but the focus of those attempts was to stay healthy, rather than to “create a body I could be proud of.”

In preparing to write this article, I did try to research the subject by searching the Internet for “body building.” My search returned links to a number of sites. www.bodybuilding.com claimed the largest selection of bodybuilding articles, exercises, workouts, supplements and community links. When I searched for “bodybuilding and the Christian” I found that there is an organization called the International Christian Bodybuilding Association (www.christianbodybuilder.com). Their website says, “The ICBBA was founded as a place for Christian athletes to meet up for support and encouragement in the sport of bodybuilding, fitness and figure. As members we strive to use our success in sports to inspire and motivate others, instilling hope which can change lives.”

What do the Scriptures teach about health and fitness? Using a good concordance, you can look up “body,” “exercise,” “food,” “drink,” etc. As you look up the references, the following may have application to the topic under discussion: 1 Tim. 4:8; 2Cor. 10:10; Rom. 12:1; Rom. 1:24; Mt. 6:25; Mt. 10:28; Rom. 6:12; 1Cor. 6:18-19; 1Cor 9:27; Phil. 1:20 and Js. 3:6. Read those and then send me your comments and let me know what you think.

A resource that I have recommended before in this column is David Banning’s workbook, Tough Choices: How to Make Wise Decisions. This is one study in a great series of studies in his Get Them Talking High School Workbook series! In a lesson titled, “Tough Choices About How I Look,” he recommends an exercise in which the student works through a series of statements marking them either as true or as false. One of those statements is, “It’s okay to wear clothes that cause people to notice your body and that make you look sexy.” Perhaps this is the issue that would be more pertinent to the young women in our reading audience and the bodybuilding issue is more pertinent to the young men.

I am interested in hearing your comments, not only about this article but also about this column and this website. Do you regularly visit the website? Do you find the articles informative and uplifting? Are there topics that you would like to see discussed? Would you like to write articles for publication here or do you know of others who would like to do so. We are looking particularly for young teenage and “twenty-something” Christians

Thanks for reading with me young friends. I hope that you had a blessed 2011! We wish you a spiritually rewarding 2012 and hope that we can play a small part of that.