Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Beauty Inside Out

Leslie Basham: When someone uses the phrase "inside out," they usually mean that we're wearing something the wrong way. But in the case of true beauty, inside out means we finally have it right.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss. It's Friday, November 8. We've been hearing from a special guest this week about what it means to be beautiful from God's perspective. On today's broadcast, the final one of the series, we're challenged to examine our motives for wanting to be beautiful. Here's Nancy to introduce today's topic.

Nancy Demoss: Why do you dress the way that you do? And, if you exercise, why do you exercise? And if you're concerned about your weight or on a diet, as many of us women are much of the time, have you ever asked yourself why? As we pick up today with this final portion of Carolyn Mahaney's message on true beauty, she's going to share with us another practical change that we need to make in our thinking, in our behavior, in order to develop true biblical beauty.

Yesterday Carolyn reminded us that we need to resolve whom it is that we're trying to please. We need to receive with gratefulness the body and appearance that God has given us. Then we need to recognize that our bodies are not our own. They belong to God.

Now as we pick up on the final portion of this message on true beauty, Carolyn is going to share with us one more practical change that we may need to make in our thinking and in our behavior in order to develop true biblical beauty.

Carolyn Mahaney: We need to replace the vanity in our lives with the pursuit of godliness. Try as hard as we may, we are not going to find any verse in the Bible that encourages pursuing a body that is perfectly thin, always tanned and completely toned. It is not a godly pursuit.

Now, let's consider this pursuit for just a moment. Is it not self-glory rather than God's glory we are pursuing when it is our goal to be thin, tanned and toned? Doesn't the pursuit of a perfect figure lead to a preoccupation with self, rather than a preoccupation with God?

Listen to this woman's confession: "I'm feeling fat and can't keep my mind off my weight. All day long I think about food--avoiding food, eating certain kinds of food, cooking diet dinners, feeling ashamed if I overeat, feeling great if I don't. Food has become my daily focus, even though I'm trying to lose weight with God's help and for His glory."

"I exercise, shop correctly and snack on baby carrots. Every time we go out to eat I ask the waitress or counter person about the number of calories and fat grams, complaining about diet Coke tasting like chemicals. While getting dressed in front of my husband I point out my burgeoning waistline and inquire about his opinion of my wide behind. I talk constantly about this struggle."

Now doesn't this woman's confession reveal a preoccupation with self, rather than a preoccupation with God? You see, the pursuit of a good figure is vanity. We are seeking our own glory rather than God's glory. And God's Word condemns such a pursuit. We are not to be conformed into the image our culture worships.

We are to be conformed into the image of God. We need to replace the vanity in our lives with the pursuit of godliness. Therefore, our eating and exercise habits should reflect goals such as these. I'm developing the fruit of the spirit of self-control in my life. I want to treat my body as not my own. I want to strengthen my body for effective service to the Lord. Those should be the kinds of goals we should have.

When was the last time you heard a woman say that she needs to be more disciplined and exercise for the purpose of strengthening her body for the Lord's service? Do not women normally lament their lack of discipline in this area because of the negative effects it has on how they look, rather than the negative effects it has on their body's health and strength?

Are they usually not more concerned about thighs that are too big and a stomach that's no longer flat than they are concerned about the health and strength of their body?

When was the last time you heard a woman grieve over the fact that she has dishonored God by overeating? Isn't her sadness about her sinful eating habits usually because of the negative consequences it has on her appearance, rather than a godly sorrow for disobeying God?

Are we pursuing vanity or are we pursuing godliness in our eating and exercising habits? Are we seeking our own glory or are we seeking God's glory in the way we care for our body? We need to realize God is not going to bless our vain pursuits. He's not going to honor self-glorification. He's only going to bless the pursuit of godliness in our lives. We need to settle that once and for all.

How about the area of our dress? Are we seeking the approval of others or are we seeking to impress? Or, worse yet, are we seeking to lure men by the way we dress and care for our appearance?

Again, these are vain pursuits and the Bible strongly forbids such attitudes and behavior.

I want to close by reading a story that John Piper included in his book Future Grace. It's about a woman who abandoned the physical beauty quest in pursuit of true beauty.

"Evelyn Harris Brand, the mother of Paul Brand, the world-renowned hand surgeon and leprosy specialist, grew up in a well-to-do English family. She had studied at the London Conservatory of Art and dressed in the finest silks.

"But she went with her husband to minister as missionaries in the Kolli Malai range of India. After about 10 years, her husband died at age 44. And she came home a broken woman, beaten down by pain and grief. But after a year's recuperation and against all advice she returned to India.

"Her soul was restored as she poured her life into the hill people--nursing the sick, teaching farming, lecturing about guinea worms, rearing orphans, clearing jungle land, pulling teeth, establishing schools, preaching the Gospel. She lived in a portable hut 8 feet square that could be taken down, moved and erected again.

"At age 67 she fell and broke her hip. Her son Paul had just come to India as a surgeon. He encouraged her to retire. She had already suffered a broken arm, several cracked vertebrae and recurrent malaria. Paul mounted as many arguments as he could think of to persuade her that 67 years was a good investment in ministry and now it was time to retire. Her response?

"'Paul, you know these mountains. If I leave, who will help the village people? Who will treat their wounds and pull their teeth and teach them about Jesus? When someone comes to take my place then, and only then, will I retire. In any case, why preserve this old body if it's not going to be used where God needs me.' That was her final answer so she worked on.

"At the age of 95 she died. Following her instructions, villagers buried her in a simple cotton sheet so that her body would return to the soil and nourish new life. Her spirit, too, lives on in a church, a clinic, several schools and in the faces of thousands of villagers across five mountain ranges of south India.

"Her son commented that with wrinkles as deep and extensive as any I have ever seen on a human face, she was a beautiful woman. But it was not the beauty of the silk and heirlooms of London high society. For the last 20 years of her life, she refused to have a mirror in her house. She was consumed with ministry, not mirrors."

 

What are we consumed with? Ministry or mirrors? Which beauty are we seeking to cultivate? The beauty that is of great worth to God or the beauty that our culture worships. Like Evelyn Harris Brand, if we pursue true beauty, our femininity will only grow more beautiful. Like Evelyn Harris Brand, if we seek to please God in our quest for beauty, our femininity will even be more beautiful at age 95 than it is now.

Nancy DeMoss: We've been listening to Carolyn Mahaney. Oh my, what a challenging thought that as we pursue true biblical beauty, our beauty, our femininity will continue to increase as we get older.

I have to tell you that (as I listened to that message again over the last several days) I found myself having to go to my knees and to cry out to the Lord at points in repentance--and acknowledge that I had been pursuing mirrors more than ministry, that my goals have been selfish rather than godly goals as it relates to this whole matter of physical beauty. I found myself asking the Lord to do a fresh work in my own heart of molding and shaping me and making into His kind of woman--from the inside out.

If God has spoken to your heart even as He has mine as we've listened to this message, would you just join me now in praying this prayer to the Lord:

Oh Lord, we want to be beautiful women for You. We pray that You will conform us to the image of Your Son, Jesus. That You will transform us by the power of Your Holy Spirit from the inside out. That our lives and everything about us might radiate the beauty and the glory and the wonder of who the Lord Jesus is.

May it all be for the Lord, not for our own sakes nor for our own glory, not so that other people can look at us and say "isn't she beautiful?" But so that other people can look at us and say "isn't God great?" Make us beautiful women. For Jesus' sake I pray it. Amen.

Leslie Basham: If you just prayed with Nancy DeMoss would you write and let us know? Tell us what you think about this week's series "True Beauty." When you write, ask us for a copy of the book Nancy edited called Biblical Womanhood in the Home. It will help keep what you heard this week fresh in your mind.

Carolyn Mahaney wrote one of the chapters. And it will help you apply today's message. The book is full of insight, advice and challenges to ladies who want to know and love God with all of their heart. Order your copy today for a donation of $13 by calling 1-800-569-5959 or by coming to our Web site ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thanks to all who pray regularly for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Your prayers matter a great deal. And we hope you will continue. We also want to thank those who financially support this ministry. God's faithfulness and your generosity are needed and appreciated.

On Monday, we'll start to learn what it truly means to be grateful. We hope you have a wonderful weekend and are able to join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

 

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