We have arrived at the bull’s eye for our ideal-but-not-real Proverbs 31 woman. It is the key to all the others; without it, our efforts are in vain, in every sense of the word.
Target TWELVE: Focusing on what’s most important.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised (30).
To join the world’s elusive quest for blissful beauty is to fear man, which Proverbs 29:25 tells us “brings a snare.” It’s a trap. The result is bondage because everything the world elevates as beautiful and worthy is passing. It tells us we will be blessed, successful, adored, and fulfilled only if we have luscious shiny hair, flawless young skin, gleaming white teeth, a thin fit body, perfectly perky breasts, and the right clothes, shoes, handbags, and jewelry to finish the package.
Do not be deceived. It’s a lie!
All these things may be beautiful to the eye, but they are fleeting. As Beth Moore so aptly declares in her study on Esther, “It’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment.”[i]
The irony is that no treatment will ever be enough. Being beautiful as measured by what the eye beholds will always require more because true beauty is an inside job. It radiates from a heart that fears the Lord. Respects Him. Shrinks back in fear and draws close in awe.[ii] Is worshipfully submitted to Him.
As much as God is a loving God, slow to anger, quick to forgive, full of mercy and grace, He is also a holy God, and the one to whom we will answer for our every word and action. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11:
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
To fear God is to take seriously the personal accountability we have to Him for everything we do and say while here on this earth. Pretty weighty, right?
I once heard we will never deny ourselves if we don’t think Christ is worth it. If we never take time to know Christ intimately, He will never be worth the sacrifice required to be a Proverbs 31 woman. The most important thing we can do, then, once we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, is make it our priority to fall deeply in love with the Lord.
My good friend, Jill, constantly reminds me that time equals intimacy. If we’re not spending time with God in His word, in worship, and in prayer, we’re not going to have the intimacy through which transformation occurs. Conversely, if we are, awe and respect will naturally follow, as will an understanding of what He desires of us and a desire to please Him in all things.
The result? We will receive honor and praise for that which is genuinely beautiful regardless of our outward appearance:
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.’ … Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:28-29, 31).
“True holiness and virtue command permanent respect and affection, far more than charm and beauty of face and form.”[iii]
Let us take God’s word to heart, then, and define beauty in His terms. Below, I’ve combined several favorite scriptures into a declaration we can speak over ourselves. Thank you, Jessica McCarty at www.mccartydesigns.com, for designing this downloadable printable (click here to download in pdf)! I had mine printed onto 16×20 canvas posters for my and each of my daughters’ rooms. Feel free to do something similar as a constant reminder of the beauty God already sees in you and wants you to pursue.
The Lord has used this series to humble, teach, and challenge me. I want you to know, there were many times through this series when I aimed at our ideal and missed terribly, thinking, “That was a great Proverbs 31 moment, Shauna!” And I’m sure there will be more, so together, let’s move forward striving for progress, not perfection.
Lord, help us to value the inside characteristics of a beautiful heart in love and awe of You. Transform us by the truth of Your word and move us toward your ideal as we become more wholly Yours today.
Read the rest of our Proverbs 31 series here: