Recently a woman asked me if I would teach a group of youth girls about inner beauty. I was honored that she asked, but I had a momentary panic. I definitely believe that inner beauty is important, but how would I define it? What would I say?
I actually will be out of town on the day she wants me to teach, but it got me thinking about what I would say to a group of teenagers about inner beauty. I considered the women in my life who exude beauty – the women who I am drawn to for conversation and encouragement. Some are mentors, others are friends, but all of them share several traits off this list. By no means is this an all-inclusive list, but hopefully it can challenge us to examine how we are serving God and loving others. Oh, and I’m preaching to myself with this list – I admire these ladies because I want these traits!
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
Service – On the night that Jesus was arrested, He washed the disciples’ feet; He took on the role of a servant and performed a lowly task. He acted out of love for His disciples, even the man who was about to betray Him. Jesus then commanded them to serve others as He had modeled for them. When others look at your life, do they see a woman who serves? A woman who is willing to humble herself and perform the lowly task, often without receiving recognition for what she’s done?
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.’” John 13:12-17
Strength and leadership – I have the honor of serving alongside a number of strong women who lead in various ways in the church. They teach children, lead the women’s ministry and/or coordinate various outreaches in the community. The ladies I have in mind each show strength and the ability to lead, yet they do not like having attention drawn to themselves. They have busy lives, and yet they desire to serve the church and use their gifts of coordination and management to support various ministries. A leader sometimes is the person in the background organizing logistics. They may be soft-spoken or afraid of public speaking. Yet they are strong and rooted; they can be relied upon to get the job done. I took a leadership class in college, and one type of leadership is called “servant leadership”. A servant leader is a person who leads by example. Even if you don’t like being in the limelight, you still can lead by example. You still have gifts to share and ways to help others grow.
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” Proverbs 31:17
Gentleness – This is one of the fruits of the Spirit and a trait that I struggle greatly with. I know several women who can keep their cool and speak gently and respectfully, even when frustrated. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft [gentle] answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” How do you respond when you’re angry? Having gentleness in our responses (which may mean keeping silent) can speak volumes for our testimony. How did Jesus respond when arrested and beaten? “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
Hospitality – Both Paul and Peter wrote to the early church, instructing them to show hospitality (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9). I view this as a very loving way to serve others. When you open up your home to others, you become somewhat vulnerable. Perhaps your house isn’t the cleanest or cutest, but the fact that you welcome people in shows that you care about them. Hosting often takes effort; it is seldom relaxing. But it is a great way to love on others, and it is commanded in scripture.
Listening Ear – Have you ever poured out your heart to someone and you just wanted them to listen? To hear you out before offering advice? We are definitely called to counsel one another and admonish sin (1 Thessalonians 5:14), but first we need to listen! By listening, you show respect for the person speaking. Hear them out rather than jumping to conclusions or busying your mind considering what to say in response. A woman who listens is a woman who shows patience and restraint.
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Proverbs 1:5
Joyfulness – Few people are drawn to grumps or complainers. We are drawn to those who exude joy and pleasantness. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Even when life is troublesome, we are to give thanks.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Giving thanks instills joyfulness in our hearts. We are to be grateful for what the Lord gives us, and He does not give us more than we can handle with Him at our side (1 Corinthians 10:13). God has given us a community of believers to build each other up. Are you encouraging others and spreading joy? Or are you more frequently a crushed spirit?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such thing there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
I challenge you to identify an item from this list or from the fruits of the Spirit listed above that you are lacking in. Looking at all of it at once can be overwhelming (we are sinners in need of a Savior!), so narrow in on some tangible ways that you can work on one or two of these traits this week. And pray for the Lord to help you. I challenge you to spend more time cultivating inner beauty than you spend on your outer beauty. Read God’s word daily and pray without ceasing. It is only by God’s power through the working of His Spirit that our hearts can be transformed.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
About the Author
I am a Christ-loving woman who is continually being stretched by the Lord. I live in small-town Texas and love playing soccer, baking cookies, playing games and hugging trees. I split my time between working towards the conservation of endangered species and training up the next generation of children and youth at my church.