True Beauty—You Can Develop It
THE Bible has counsel for both men and women in the matter of good looks. For men, it notes: “The beauty of young men is their power.” (Proverbs 20:29) Yes, the energy and vitality of young men can be very appealing. But what happens when that youthful vigor wanes? The Bible proverb says: “Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) Righteousness is a facet of inner beauty. If a young man cultivates it, it will still be there when he loses that attractive vigor of youth.
Regarding women the Bible says: “Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” (Proverbs 31:30) A pretty, charming young woman is a delightful companion. But what if there are hypocrisy and selfish vanity lurking behind the physical charm? Then the beauty is only skin deep, and it hides an inner ugliness. When the prettiness fades, what will be left? How much better if the good looks are matched by an unfading inner beauty, rooted in a ‘fear of Jehovah’!
A Change of Personality
Is it possible to develop this inner beauty? Yes. In fact, for Christians, it is a must. God values true beauty. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Revised Standard Version) He will not accept the worship of those whose conduct betrays unlovely inner qualities.
The apostle Paul’s words to the Colossians imply the need to cultivate an inner beauty. First, he admonishes: “Put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth. Do not be lying to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices.” Yes, anyone who practices such ugly things is repulsive to God—and to right-thinking humans. Then, Paul continues: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.” (Colossians 3:8-10) We must ‘put on’ a way of thinking and feeling that conforms to God’s will. What characterizes this “new personality”?
The Bible lists many beautiful qualities that go to make it up. But the basis for this inner beauty is described in Jesus’ words: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) Love of God leads us to want to be the kind of person that pleases him. Such love moves us to speak about him to others, helping them, in turn, to get to know their Creator.—Isaiah 52:7.
Some other qualities that go to make up the new personality are described by the apostle Paul: “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”—Galatians 5:22, 23.
In addition, the Bible says specifically to husbands: “A husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation . . . Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:23, 25) And to wives, the Bible says: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord . . . The wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22, 33) How attractive family life is when the husband fulfills his responsibilities in a loving, unselfish, and patient manner! And how much easier it is for the man to fulfill his proper role when the wife reveals her inner beauty by lovingly supporting him and not being competitive or overly critical. Family life under such conditions can be truly delightful.
The examples cited in the previous article showed some of these qualities in action. The Shulammite girl demonstrated constancy and a deep love for her shepherd boy when she refused to abandon him for the glitter of Solomon’s court. Joseph showed an innate goodness when he refused to sin against his master, Potiphar. He also demonstrated self-control when he fled rather than be seduced by Potiphar’s wife. And he exemplified mildness, peace, and long-suffering when he refused to let the many adverse events in his life embitter him.
Beauty in an Ugly World
Are such beautiful qualities practical today? Many think not. Rather, they react to the self-seeking, grasping world in which they live by developing a hard surface. They feel that to survive they have to be ruthless, ambitious, putting number one first and grasping for all they can get.
In contrast, the Bible encourages: ‘Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind consider that the others are superior to you, keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.’ (Philippians 2:3, 4) It is because mankind in general does not follow this fine counsel that human society is deteriorating so badly.
Additionally, in the present world, a person’s success is measured by money or position. A rich man is considered to be a successful man. However, as far as real values are concerned, it is completely unimportant whether someone is rich or poor. Indeed, wealth has its dangers. The Bible warns: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires.” It adds: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.”—1 Timothy 6:9, 10.
Of course, people who are selfish, grasping, materialistic, and ruthless often enjoy temporary “success” today. But it is not real success, since the cost of such an ugly way of living—personal unpopularity, wrecked marriages, ill health, and general frustration—is very high. Man was made in the image of God, but when he rebels so violently against the qualities God originally implanted in him, he can never achieve personal happiness.—Genesis 1:27.
Developing the Inner Beauty
How can we, then, resist the bad influence of this world and develop noble, godly qualities? When Paul listed the qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control,’ he called them “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) So God’s spirit is necessary if we are to develop these beautiful inner qualities.
How? Well, studying the Bible, which was inspired by means of God’s spirit, will help us to identify these qualities and strengthen our desire to cultivate them. (2 Timothy 3:16) Jehovah’s Witnesses are always happy to help in such a project, since they view it as part of their ministry to help people to study the Bible. Honest self-examination will enable us to see where we fall short, and we can pray for the help of God’s spirit in these areas. Associating with fellow worshipers of God will give the support of our peers that we need, and here, too, God’s spirit helps because, as Jesus said, “where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”—Matthew 18:20.
A Beautiful World Ahead
Naturally, none of us will completely overcome our imperfections, but if we strive to develop this inner beauty, God will bless our efforts. And he will reward us in a wonderful way. The Bible records for us God’s purpose soon to usher in a new system of things that will be completely different from the present one. In it, “the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) Jesus himself said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—Matthew 5:5.
At that time, the unsightly competitiveness and selfishness of this system of things will be replaced by a beautiful tranquillity and serenity. “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) Indeed, God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:4.
Do such conditions sound appealing? They are possible only because the earth’s inhabitants then will possess an inner beauty based on love of God and of neighbor. And God has promised that those who serve him now, cultivating “the new personality” and striving hard to follow his standards, will see the realization of that promise. Good looks, physical beauty, could never bring such blessings. What good reason, then, to develop that richer, longer-lasting inner beauty that is so pleasing to right-thinking humans and to God himself!
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Physically attractive people should avoid being selfish and manipulative. Rather, they should cultivate the inner beauty that pleases God