Ornamentation and beauty 3

“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 this long delayed third issue on the topic of ornamentation and beauty, we will consider another area of adorning:

2. Good works

Our works are the expression of that which is in our heart.  By what we do, ultimately the way we live, we are communicating to those around us what we truly believe.  The hidden man of our heart, though not seen in full upon first contact, is none the less manifested in our actions, our works.  The most powerful form of communication is a life.  Words say little if our life does not match up with them.  The question then is: What are we communicating?  And what should we be communicating?

As Christians, we bear the name of Christ, and thus live a standard by which the world will judge Christ.  Our works are a demonstration of Who we believe God to be.  Are we giving an accurate picture to those around us of Who God really is?  Commentator John Gill stated, “Good works are like good clothes, to which the apostle alludes; they do not make persons men and women, but they adorn them as such; so good works, they do not make men and women Christians, or believers, but they adorn them as such; they are ornaments to their persons, and to their profession, and to the Gospel they profess.”  May our lives be consistent with our profession!

What are good works?  Frequently, we have a misconception as to what a good work is.  We tend to think of things such as giving something to those who have nothing, helping with some missionary endeavour, doing something in the church—generally something we have to go out of our way to do and that is not a part of our normal daily life.  The Greek word for work literally means “that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking.”  By that definition, a work is anything we do.  So what makes it a good work?  A good work is an action that is in accordance to the Scripture, performed in a way that is in accordance to the Scripture with a heart attitude that is also in accordance to the Scriptures.  It is a way of life by which God in the truth of His character is shown forth.  This means that we can be doing good works every hour of every day.  Notice, however, that the heart attitude is key.  It is possible, of course, to do good things that are endorsed by the Scriptures without having a heart that is right before God.  It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to impress others, ourselves, or even God, by what we do.  But is this a life of good works?  No.  A life of good works stems only from a vibrant relationship with God, a heart that is seeking, first of all, His kingdom and that has its affection set on things above.