***I recently was presented this list of 14 Marks of a Wise Woman and I instantly felt overwhelmed. I want to be all these things! To glorify God by being wise and discerning. To honor God in my attitude, the way I speak, and how I react in difficult situations. In this series, I will be exploring each of these 14 Biblical virtues (please also see proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com, which is the source of this list), in order to find ways to apply these principles to my life in practical ways. I hope you will join me!***
If you’re just joining us, here are the previous virtues:
5. Is Focused More on Inward Character than Outward Adornment
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
What does this mean?
First of all, I don’t think it means that we aren’t allowed to wear jewelry or braid our hair. I grew up in a church where this was the case though. Many of the women would not even wear wedding bands. I went to a high school where jewelry was strictly forbidden (run by same church denomination). By the time I got to college I went a little crazy and wore a ton of it. Ironically, now you will hardly ever see me wear jewelry. I just don’t like it enough to make the effort. But I think there are plenty of women who look wonderful in jewelry, and from this verse I think it’s clear that it’s not being banned- which is part of the main point. (same goes for hair braiding)
There is a similar discussion akin to Peter’s instructions in the above verses, from Paul to Timothy, which reads, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” (1 Tim 2:9). We know from the context that this is discussing a specific issue with the women of the church at that time, who were using the worship services as excuses to flaunt what they had.
It’s important to understand there are two converse statements here. One is a negative statement about braiding hair and jewelry, and a positive statement of the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. One thing was being chastised in reference to another. AKA, it wasn’t saying that braiding wasn’t allowed, but that it should be secondary to the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. Jesus does this often in his own speaking, for example, John 6:27. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…” Jesus is not saying that we should not work for food. Obviously, in order to survive in this world, we need to eat, and to eat, we need to work for money to purchase it (or work the land in order to grow it). But the emphasis should be on striving for ‘food’ that endures to eternal life. Jesus is not condemning the first one, but He is condemning those who only seek the first one. Does that makes sense?
Jesus says another thing that ties in nicely, in Matthew 23:25, while speaking to the Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” So clearly today’s virtue addresses both male and female. I personally think that because the men at that time were not struggling with this outward adornment issue, they were left out of this verse. However, it certainly still applies to both genders! I also think as women we are more susceptible to comparing ourselves to others and wanting to impress with our appearance.
We’re going to talking specifically about modesty next time, so I won’t go into detail with that too much. I think the main point taken from this discussion should be an honest assessment of where we each place our emphasis. Is it on how we look to other people or who we really are? So again, as with other topics in this series, it comes down to the heart.
How can I focus more on inward character than outward adornment as a Christian?
Going back to the point above, which was that the women of the time were using worship services as an excuse to flaunt what they had, can you relate? I think most every woman who gets herself ready for church each week (or anything that requires leaving the house…) understands this in her heart. It’s okay to look nice, I’m not bashing that at all! But what is your motive? I used to say the oh-so-cliche “I want to look my best for God”. WHAT?! Yeah right. I wish that were true. At least now I am smart enough to know that my desire to look ‘great’ at church is more from a sense of fitting in, pride, and fear of being rejected. I do think it’s a great opportunity to dress in that outfit you can’t wear to work, or dress in something that makes you feel feminine when you’ve been in your ‘house clothes’ all week. I think it’s important to show our feminine side and to enjoy being a woman. But the fact that I have at least 50 options on any given Sunday and all I can say is ‘I have nothing to wear’, is just sad.
I struggle with my weight. I have my whole life. And if you were to look at me right now, you might agree. But it’s more than an inability to lose that leftover ‘baby weight’, it’s a heart issue. When I was at my smallest weight as an adult, I hated my body. I remember trying on my wedding dress and crying. Thinking how terrible I looked. How fat I was. How ugly I would be at my wedding and no amount of makeup, hair-do’s, or styling would hide how bleh I really was. And I look back on those pictures now and think, “man, I wish I could be that skinny again.” I truly think I looked great, now that I look back. But at the time, all I could see was hideousness. The main issue here? Lack of acceptance of what God has given me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I need to lose weight for my health, and I am working on getting myself back into balance. But it means little if I can’t be content with how I am, as well. Content in knowing that God cares about my heart. And that I could be skinny, have great hair, and a trendy fashion sense, but if I don’t have a heart for others, the willingness to leave the house without makeup because a friend called and needs help, if I get upset or depressed because I don’t ‘look good in that dress today’ – then I am tragically missing the point. So by all means, do you hair up nice when you can – but don’t let your hair (clothes, jewelry, clear skin, trim hips, great fashion sense, wherever your pride is) define you. Let your salvation in Christ Jesus define you.
How can I focus more on inward character than outward adornment as a wife?
My husband sees it all. The good, the bad, the ugly, and *shock* the nothing. Of all the people on this earth, he knows me through and through. There is no hiding from him. There is no ‘put on a smile and everyone will think I’m great’ around him either. Well, some days. But I can’t hold up with that for long, so eventually he see’s what’s really there. What am I getting at? He knows whether my heart is more attractive that day than my attire, and he conversely knows that sometimes I’m looking good on the outside but have a lot of sin on my record from that morning. I believe this is God’s grace. Our husbands can be an opportunity for God to shape our hearts into being more pure and more holy. So be accountable to him!
After attending a bible study that was about loving our husbands, I decided to talk to my husband about my clothing choices. The point was made that we should strive to be attractive to our husbands and this was a very direct way of doing that. Well, come to find out he prefers to see me dress in clothes that are ‘fitting’ and not loose. So not tight, but he’s not a fan of my preferred method of dressing – the ‘tent’ approach. I figure, I don’t like it so I’ll hide it. But he thinks that accentuates the ‘problem areas’ that I’m trying to hide anyway. And he’s right. But for so many years this has been a struggle for me. Have a gut, hips too big, etc etc? Try to hide it! Because of my pride. Yes, it looks a bit frumpy. But at least maybe someone wouldn’t be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have excess weight there… sure they assume. But there has been some kind of sad comfort in feeling like I am not as vulnerable when I cover all that up. My point here is back to any incorrect heart issues. If we’re not willing to change our attire for the pleasure of our husbands, we should see a red flag. Yes, it’s difficult to wear something I feel self conscious in. But who am I trying to impress? Well, HIM. And if he likes it, what am I so up in arms about? Note: if your husband suggests anything that involves too much exposure of sensitive areas, save those outfits for at home! ;)
How can I focus more on inward character than outward adornment as a mother & keeper of the home?
I have a choke point. Well, I have lots of choke points, but I’m going to talk about ‘the big one’. It happens like clockwork. I bet most any mom will tell you that Sunday morning’s are rough. Getting kids ready for church is hard for anyone, I don’t care who you are. But my issue has always existed, so I’m not going to pretend is has anything to do with getting my son ready. It’s getting myself ready that is the issue. I’ve always been this way. I’m obsessed with being on time, I think because my parents were always late to everything as a kid. But it’s more than that too (and that is certainly not a good excuse). It’s being ‘rushed’ because I end up trying on 10 things, because each thing I try on ‘looks so terrible on me’. An ‘argument’ that my husband and I sometimes get into – “I can’t find anything to wear that doesn’t make me look terrible!” “You look great today – I loved that one outfit, why don’t you wear that.” “THAT outfit?! That was the worst one!!!” If it weren’t so sad, it might be comical. And, of course, my bad attitude spills into getting my son ready, and getting breakfast ready, and and and…
My attitude during these times is literally tearing down the walls of my house (Proverbs 14:1). I am being so foolish! Is it wrong to be on time, have a nice outfit, and hair that doesn’t look like my son’s hair (it’s crazy, you should see it)? No, of course not. But if in the process my attitude is not honoring God, it’s probably better that I show up to church in sweat pants, a bandana, or just stay home this Sunday and spend some one-on-one time with God.
I feel like a broken record here, but the point is so important. Our emphasis should be on our hearts. And not on how the world sees us. But how God sees us.
What about you? Do you have areas in your life where you know you could better focus on your heart and not the outward ‘thing’ in question?