Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Power and the Glory

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes" (1 Peter 3:3)

God is all-glorious, and His glory is seen in the wonderfully beautiful colors and sounds that attend His glory-chariot when it appears. Human beings, the images of God, are also called to glory, as the high priest of Israel was clothed in “garments of glory and beauty” (Exodus 28:2).

Thus, when we read in 1 Peter 3 that women are not to braid their hair and wear jewels and nice clothes, we have to take this statement in its biblical context. Some have ripped these verses out of context and argued that all makeup is sinful, that it is sinful for a woman to do anything with her hair; but such applications of these verses are sadly misguided.

Others have said that it was prostitutes and the sexually immoral who braided their hair, and that Peter is simply saying that Christian women should not dress like prostitutes. But we know from the ancient world that this was not the case. The words Peter uses here are the ordinary words describing hairstyle, jewelry, and nice clothes.

Peter’s strong statement against jewelry and nice clothes needs to be interpreted the same way as Jesus’ statement that we have to hate our wives in order to be His disciple (Luke 14:26). We know from plenty of other passages that we are supposed to love our wives. But when we compare our loyalty to Jesus with our love for our family, the degree of difference should be so great that by comparison we almost “hate” our family. Similarly, it is perfectly fine for a Christian woman to wear nice clothes, jewelry, makeup, and have a nice hairstyle, but in comparison to the effort she makes to cultivate her character qualities, it should be as if she had no regard for her outward appearance at all.

True glory starts in the inner person. Purity and reverence in all of life, a quiet and gentle spirit—these are the things that make women truly beautiful. Since all of us are members of the bride of Christ, what Peter is writing here applies equally to all. The point is that we should focus our attention not so much on outward glory and beauty as on inward character qualities that will shine forth with a true, radiant beauty.

Just as there is a paradox of power, so there is a paradox of glory. Real beauty comes not from outward adornment but from the cultivation of inner humility. It would seem that humiliation would make a person ugly, but the reverse is true. Meditate on this truth and see if you can discern how it applies to your life.