There we were, standing against the wall. Some of the girls giggled nervously as the boys scanned us from the opposite wall. We were about to be selected as dance partners for our camp dance class. Our hearts pounded as we anxiously waited to be asked to dance. The instructor gave the word, and the boys walked across the floor to offer their arm to a girl of their choosing. Quickly, our attention was drawn to a few of the boys arguing over who would partner a certain girl from my dorm.
As we all stood watching this happen, I wondered what was so special about this girl that all those boys wanted to partner her on the dance floor. She was not the prettiest girl in our dorm, so why was she so popular with these boys? She was small and delicate, and had her shiny brown hair nicely tied with a cute, very feminine red bandana, but she was wearing the exact same uniform as the rest of us. She was smiling genuinely, sweet and shy, at the boy who won her hand for the dance. As she danced, she had a sparkle in her eye and lightness in her step. I observed her closely as we were dancing around the room, wondering what exactly had drawn the boys’ attention. Years passed before I understood her secret.
Concern for Others Is True Beauty
Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
It has often been said that a woman’s inward beauty shines through to the outside. When you encounter a lady who is physically beautiful on the outside, but speaking to her reveals that she is selfish or has a bad attitude, you tend to think of her less positively in the future.
By contrast, you know from spending time with an inwardly beautiful woman that she is a genuinely good-hearted, caring person. It is not just her outward appearance that leads you to this conclusion, but also the way she carries herself with a godly confidence. A truly beautiful woman shines with a peaceful, gentle, and quiet spirit from within. It is reflected not just in her appearance, but also in her actions and her concern for others. She takes care to look her best, but that is not what concerns her most. She is kind to all, esteems others better than herself, and has no ulterior motive in befriending others. She is genuinely happy when others succeed, and she will give compliments from the heart. She does not parade herself or draw undue attention to herself by dressing immodestly.
Appearance Is a Personal Advertisement
1 Timothy 2:8–10: I desire therefore… that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
What is the first detail we notice about another person? When we see homeless people on the street, their appearance shows us their condition: what they are wearing, how clean they are, and perhaps a “help” sign in their hands. Likewise, if we see a businessman on the street, we know he is so because of his suit, tie, and briefcase. We recognize a police officer or nurse because of a uniform. The same goes for many circumstances in life. Our clothing introduces us to other people before we ever even talk to them. What we wear shows others how we view ourselves and what our aspirations for the future are. You may say that it is not fair for people to judge a book by its cover, and we should certainly judge righteously (John 7:24). Yet, for those of us with the freedom to make our own choices, how we choose to present ourselves does communicate something about us!
Some women are under the mistaken impression that it is only up to a man to control his desires and where he looks. While men certainly do have that responsibility, that shouldn’t prevent us from considering our own choices. Imagine walking by a beautiful window display done up with vibrant colors and tasteful decorations surrounding something you would like to have. Your eye will naturally be drawn to such a lovely display. When marketers advertise their wares, they intentionally put them on display attractively to entice the interested customer to buy them. The same applies to how we dress as women. If we wish to show that we are essentially “up for sale,” we will advertise that fact by drawing attention to the areas where we want the eyes to go. It is not wrong for men to appreciate a woman’s stylish but modestly displayed beauty, but it is harder for them to move on from that “window” if we give them more to see pressed up against the glass or peeking out from underneath the curtain.
As godly women, we should show concern for our brothers and try to let modesty and purity guide us in the example we present to the world. A godly woman will dress herself in attire that is attractive but does not inappropriately draw the eye or generate, by design, inappropriate interest from anyone—and does not put a stumbling block before someone of the opposite sex by enticing him to have wrong thoughts. When we dress with modest intent, we show godly confidence in godly values, and our good character will be the ultimate draw.
Godly Confidence in a Pure Conscience
1 Peter 3:3–4: Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
Godly confidence has an appearance. If, as God’s daughters, we are truly striving to live in Christ according to His laws, we are free from guilt. We are released from sin and can carry ourselves uprightly with a peaceful and quiet spirit. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We can hold our heads up, put our shoulders back, and walk with lightness in our step in the assurance that we are forgiven of our sins. When we speak to others, we can look them in the eye and smile from within. We can focus on others because we are not obsessed with our own problems. We show confidence by our actions and wisdom in our words.
In contrast, if we live with a dark secret or a sin that has enslaved us, we will have a guilty conscience. This can play havoc with our outward appearance no matter how hard we try to hide it. If we are burdened by our sins and carry the weight of guilt, it will show in the way we carry ourselves. A lack of sleep from worry over being caught could give us dark circles under our eyes that even concealer will not hide. A feeling of being unworthy may add a slump to our posture. Constant thoughts of our sin might keep our eyes downcast when we talk to others. We may become snappy when our patience is thin, because our focus will be inward, on self. If we are experiencing something like this, we must examine ourselves and reevaluate the path we are on. It is not that we should judge others who appear this way—sometimes people are tired, or show the aches and pains of age, or are painfully shy. But we ourselves know that we want to be our best for others and uplift them by how we present ourselves in a godly manner.
So, What Is Her Secret?
Proverbs 31:25–26: Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.
You may have guessed the young lady’s secret by now. A woman’s true beauty is in her character. How we treat others shows them where our heart is. Whether we like it or not, what we are on the inside shows others outwardly how attractive or unattractive we truly are. Outward appearance plays a large part in how people perceive us, but it is our concern for others and the values by which we order our lives that truly reveal our womanly beauty. If we sin, we as daughters of our Heavenly Father must repent and ask for forgiveness, so that we can once again walk without guilt, with a godly confidence. Only then can our true beauty shine through.