THE great Creator is a lover of beauty. His appreciation of it is apparent from the things he has made. Look where we will and we see nature, when unspoiled by humans, a thing of beauty; not to say anything about beauty in human form and features. It is right also that we appreciate beauty, that we have eyes for beauty and that we enjoy it. All such beauty, together with our faculty for enjoying it, may be said to be but another proof that “God is love.”
No question about it, “everything he has made pretty in its time.” That is also true of everything associated with the worship of God. In ancient times God ordained that the special structures used for his worship as well as their furnishings be exceedingly beautiful. No wonder the psalmist exulted: “Out of Zion, the perfection of prettiness, God himself has beamed forth.” “Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”—Eccl. 3:11; Ps. 50:2; 96:6.
Still another kind of beauty that the Creator gave his earthly creatures is that found in his Word. It is indeed a Book that is filled with beautiful sentiments, beautifully expressed. That is why one of Israel’s poets could say: “Melodies your regulations have become to me.”—Ps. 119:54.
Great as may be the pleasure and enjoyment that we find in beauty, still God did not intend for us to make beauty our chief goal in life. He did not intend for us to forget ourselves in beauty, to take it so seriously that we would neglect our worship of God or that we would even break God’s laws so as to enjoy beauty.
For one thing, let us never forget that under present imperfect conditions much beauty is transient, temporary. Of this God repeatedly reminds us in his Word: “All flesh is green grass, and all their loving-kindness is like the blossom of the field. The green grass has dried up, the blossom has withered; but as for the word of our God, it will last to time indefinite.”—Isa. 40:6, 8.
Not only is beauty transient, but it can very easily become a snare, and that in two ways: a snare to those possessing it and a snare to those hungering for it. Thus we read regarding the one that became Satan the Devil: “Your heart became haughty because of your beauty. You brought your wisdom to ruin on account of your beaming splendor.” The beauty of Absalom, a son of King David, without doubt had a part in turning his head, so that he tried to wrest the kingdom from his father: “Now compared with Absalom there proved to be no man so beautiful in all Israel as to be praised so much.”—Ezek. 28:17; 2 Sam. 14:25.
The woman of today who is exceedingly beautiful is likely to be spoiled; perhaps not so much because of her own vanity as because of the selfishness her beauty arouses in others. Like Absalom, she receives too much praise. Well to be taken to heart, therefore, are the words long ago written by a wise king: “Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.”—Prov. 31:30.
That excessive love of beauty, a hunger and thirst for it, can become a snare the Scriptures likewise show. Were not the very angelic sons of God enamored by the beauty of mortal women? Yes, “the sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves.” What a snare human feminine beauty proved to be to them, preferring it to heavenly glory! And there was that lover of beauty, King David. Rightly he exulted over the glory of the heavens and how wonderfully man is made. But wrongly he lost his head when he saw Bath-sheba bathing and noticed that she “was very good in appearance.” Her beauty snared him, to his lasting regret. Beauty can cause a man to forget that a woman is a bad one or belongs to another man. Wisely, therefore, we are counseled: “Do not desire her prettiness in your heart, and may she not take you with her lustrous eyes.”—Gen. 6:2; 2 Sam. 11:2; Prov. 6:25.
Even in religious matters beauty may be a snare. Many persons are so charmed by their beautiful church buildings and services that they never become conscious of their spiritual need but are content to feed on spiritual husks. In the same category must be placed those who find fault with the newer, more accurate Bible translations because they feel that these lack the literary beauty of the older versions. But is not the meaning more important than the manner?
Those who idolize beauty, who put it before truth, might be likened to those ancient worshipers of beauty, the Greeks. Thus the historian Lord tells us that “the real objects of Greek worship were beauty, grace and heroic strength.” And a leading religious encyclopedia says: “The Greeks were eminent for their appreciation of beauty in all its varieties; indeed, their religious creed owed its shape mainly to this peculiarity of their mind.” Their religious deities being immoral was incidental to them, so long as these were beautiful. No wonder that back there immorality was so prevalent!—1 Cor. 7:2.
That love of beauty is in itself not a force for righteousness is apparent from the response the prophet Ezekiel got from those who heard his message: “Look! you are to them like . . . one with a pretty voice and playing a stringed instrument well. And they will certainly hear your words,” yes, listen to them because they sound beautiful, “but there are none doing them.” Beauty itself does not motivate to repentance or to right works.—Ezek. 33:32.
The Creator, Jehovah God, is a lover of beauty and he desires his creatures to be lovers of beauty also. His giving man so many beautiful things, together with the faculty for appreciating them—something the lower animals do not have—is an expression of his love. Do not show ingratitude by esteeming the gift above the Giver. To do that would be both selfish and foolish, for only those who, while appreciating beauty, keep it in its place can hope to enjoy beauty forever in God’s new world in which righteousness will dwell.—2 Pet. 3:13.