Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Heart of the Matter

Leslie Basham: If you needed to buy a new car, would you want one with the best quality or one that had the best ads and commercials?

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss. It's Tuesday, November 5.

Our culture has gone commercial. Advertising blitzes try to convince us to pay any price in order to get what we want. The problem is that the quality of the product often hides behind the cleverness of the commercial. Sadly, many women are trying to "buy" beauty because they've been told that beauty equals happiness. There is a kind of beauty that is worth pursuing but has little to do with how we look. Here's Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss: I remember being amazed several years ago as I sat at a lunch table and listened to a former Miss America tell how she had to go through all kinds of unbelievable things in her pursuit of the Miss America crown in order to change her physical appearance so she could be considered beautiful.

In fact she first competed in the pageant in one state, and they told her she needed a certain kind of surgery in order to have the right kind of appearance. She later moved to another state, competed in their state pageant and had to have the surgery undone because their idea of beauty in that state was different than in the first state.

As I sat and listened to this woman, I thought about so many of the lies our culture tells us as women about what it means to be beautiful. This week we're listening to what I think is a powerful message by my friend, Carolyn Mahaney as she shares with us some of the lies about beauty that we are prone to believe and then introduces us to the truth, God's way of thinking, about true beauty.

Carolyn Mahaney: Did you know that most of the models we see in the magazines do not even look like their pictures? Fashion magazine editors have finally admitted that almost every photograph of a model that we see in a magazine has been altered by computer graphics. It is ludicrous, it is preposterous the standard our society puts forth as the measurement for beauty.

And yet, how have the women in our society responded to this ideal female image? Well, just like in past centuries and other cultures, women in our century have gone after it with a fury--be it breast implants, tummy tucks, liposuction, face lifts, cosmetic surgery, excessive dieting, compulsive exercising, anorexia, bulimia.

These are just some of the ways that women have abused their bodies and harmed their bodies in a desperate attempt to make themselves beautiful.

This begs the question: Why? Why are women so obsessed with physical beauty? Why would women go to such extremes to try to make themselves beautiful? The answer is actually very simple. It's the evil desires and sinful lusts resident in the human heart.

See, the message that accompanies this perfect female image that our society puts forth is this: If you are beautiful, you will be happy and successful. You will be popular among the women. You will be desirable to the men. You will know lasting intimacy and true love. You will be confident and secure. You will be important and significant.

Now, these are all the things our evil heart craves. The sinful heart lusts for success, significance, recognition, importance, approval. Therefore, women become obsessed with making themselves physically beautiful in an attempt to satisfy these sinful cravings.

Yet, the message is a lie. Physical beauty doesn't ensure happiness, fulfillment and success. We can validate this fact by just observing some of the most physically beautiful women in the world. I mean, consider the sad life of Princess Diana. She was physically beautiful. She was the most photographed woman in the world. She became a celebrity of unprecedented magnitude, yet she lived a very unhappy life.

Her fairy tale marriage to Prince Charles ended in divorce. Her subsequent relationships with other men all ended unhappily. She admitted to persistent bouts of depression, recurrent loneliness, ongoing bulimia and even several suicide attempts. She went through a number of psychotherapists seeking help, all to no avail. Then her life ended with her tragic death at only 36 years old.

Physical beauty does not deliver as advertised. Physical beauty does not produce the happiness and success that the beguiling voices in our society have promised. Our culture puts forth a false standard of beauty, a false message about beauty.

And it is the wickedness already resident in the human heart that motivates a person to pursue such a standard and believe such a lie. This is so important for us to understand as Christian women because we all live in this society and given our own sinful heart, we are all potentially influenced by our society.

We are challenged in Romans 12:2 to not let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold. See, the reason for that warning is because of the tendency for that to happen to all of us.

Therefore the appropriate and necessary question we need to ask ourselves is, "Has my heart been captivated by our culture's definition of beauty or God's definition?"

Does the way I think about and attend to my personal appearance reflect a cultural standard or a biblical standard? In order to answer these questions honestly we need to understand God's perspective of beauty.

To be able to accurately examine our hearts and assess our behavior in this area, we need to have a biblical perspective of beauty. What does God's Word say about beauty? Well, for starters, Proverbs 31:30 reveals the falsehood and the futility of this whole quest for physical beauty. This verse reveals the end result of such a pursuit.

It says "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain." Now, it's interesting the word "charm" in the Hebrew means bodily form. Now, form and beauty are the two things our culture esteems and pursues with fervor, are they not? Yet God's Word exposes our pursuit of the perfect figure and the beautiful look to be worthless.

It's interesting that if you should ever do a study of women in the Bible who were physically beautiful, you would discover that their beauty was far more often connected to trouble and temptation than it was to blessing and goodness. You will find many stories in the Old Testament of lying, cheating, stealing, murder, adultery and idol worship all linked to the physical beauty of women.

Nowhere in the Bible are women instructed to wish for, ask for or strive for physical beauty. Instead it warns us of the futility and deceitfulness of such a pursuit. Neither does the Bible portray physical beauty as a blessing for those who have it. It alerts us instead to the greater potential for snares and temptations that come with having this trait.

However, coming back again to our 1 Peter passage, we discover that there is a beauty we are to pursue. There is a beauty that will enhance our femininity. Let's look at these verses one more time to examine them more closely.

Starting again in verse three (1 Peter 3:3). First we read what true beauty isn't. "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes."

Now we discover the beauty we are to pursue. "Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." Then in verse five we're given role models. "For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."

Nancy DeMoss: That's Carolyn Mahaney who has challenged us today about some of the lies we believe about beauty. You know, I think all of us as women want to be beautiful. The question is, "What kind of beauty are we pursuing?"

Have you allowed the world and its culture to squeeze you into its mold, to tell you what's really beautiful? Are you in pursuit of the kind of beauty that's just physical and external?

If you are, the Scripture tells us that kind of beauty does not last. It's fleeting, it's fading. But we've been introduced in these last moments to another kind of beauty. It's that internal beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit--a woman who fears the Lord, reverences God and who lives a life that is pleasing to Him. The Scripture says that kind of woman, a holy woman who trusts in God, is a woman who is truly beautiful.

Leslie Basham: Thanks, Nancy. If you'd like to be that kind of woman, we hope you'll get a copy of the book, Biblical Womanhood In The Home. Nancy edited this book and today's guest, Carolyn Mahaney, contributed one of the chapters. If your heart pursuit is to glorify God, this book will provide you with biblical instruction, challenge and motivation. It's available for a suggested donation of $13. Call 1-800-569-5959 or log on to ReviveOurHearts.com to order your copy.

The ministry of Revive Our Hearts is dedicated to serving women everywhere who have a heart to know God and to make Him known. We rely on the prayer and financial support of our listeners. You could help us help others. If you would like to contribute to this ministry, please send your donation to Revive Our Hearts Or call 1-800-569-5959.

Please join us again tomorrow as our guest, Carolyn Mahaney, contrasts the culture's definition of beauty with God's definition. Now, here's Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss: If you've discovered today that you've been believing some of the world's lies about beauty, would you just stop wherever you are, whatever you're doing and be honest with the Lord and say, "Lord, I've been pursuing external, physical beauty. But right now I want to commit myself to begin a new pursuit, the pursuit of inner beauty of character and spirit. O, Lord, make me a woman who is beautiful from the inside out for Your glory."

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

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