Ornamentation and beauty 2

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” I Peter 3:3-4

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” I Timothy 2:9-10

In the first issue on “Ornamentation and Beauty”, I made mention of three different areas of adorning.  Here we will look at the first, the one I believe the Bible teaches to be of greatest importance:

1. A meek and quiet spirit

Some tend to think that beauty exists most in the young and that as we get older we lose that beauty, but I would argue to the contrary.  Some of the most beautiful people I know are in their eighties or nineties.  It all depends on what kind of beauty we are seeking.  As human beings, we tend to look at the externals, but God does not see this way.  “The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)  The beauty God values the most is not something we can perceive with our physical senses, nor is it a beauty that will change with time.  God says that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit does not corrupt.  That the beauty of our clothing wears out is very evident.  Our bodies also wear out with time.  But the beauty that God considers “of a great price”—that of the hidden person, a meek and quiet spirit—does not.  God describes it as incorruptible.

So what is this meek and quiet spirit, and how can we obtain it?  The Greek word for quiet literally means quiet or tranquil, and is derived from another word which means steadfast.  It denotes an attitude of silence when attacked, a non-meddling spirit, a patient endurance.  A quiet spirit is an uncomplaining perseverance under pressure, whether that be caused by direct opposition, temptation, difficulties, or the mundaneness of everyday life.  A spirit of meekness is closely connected with a quiet spirit and is defined by one commentator in the following way: “Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. … The meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Isa 41:17, Lu 18:1-8) Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Ga 5:23)” (emphasis added)  God desires to work into each of our hearts this meek and quiet spirit.  The challenges and difficulties, whether great or small, that are sent our way are His tools to purify the desires of our hearts and create in us His likeness, but we have a choice to make: Will we resist His Spirit’s working, or submit to His sanctification process so as to be adorned in the manner He desires?