Have you ever run into a woman who was bad tempered, rude, or argumentative?
While I don’t watch many reality television shows lately, I see lots of previews or recaps. The shows all seem to have a few things in common: wealthy, physically-attractive women who scream, fight, scheme, claw, cuss, cheat or threaten each other.
These women spend thousands of dollars on hair, make-up, cosmetic surgery and personal trainers to look as beautiful or desirable as possible, yet their on-screen behavior is downright UGLY.
I don’t get it. But, the writer in Ecclesiastes says: There is nothing new under the sun.
In the New Testament, one of the scriptural authors addresses a community of married women who were new to following Christ. These women were wealthy and heavily influenced by their sophisticated, educated culture. They competed against each other for the best hair, make-up, and jewelry using strategies that probably wouldn’t be completely unfamiliar in our modern times. Like many of us, these women wanted to be admired and desired by all who saw them. If there was a reality television show during that time, these ancient women would have been all up in our television screens.
Yet, the scriptural author, Peter, calls the women to aspire to more than competition over hair, clothes or reputation. Check out the verse in the box from 1 Peter 3:4.
Peter, isn’t being harsh when he speaks to the women. He wasn’t bashing beauty enhancements, rather, he contrasts what a woman does with her outer appearance against what God accomplishes by His divine work within us.
There are two descriptives that Peter calls women who aspire toward: gentleness and quietness. These two words used to discourage me on a regular basis.
Friends, there is nothing conventionally gentle or quiet about me. I’m 5’10” with big feet and a loud voice. Everything about me looks like it is moving at 100mph. So, I felt like a failure every time someone shared Peter’s teachings on these two qualities of inner beauty.
Why can’t I be like the nice ladies with the polite smiles dressed in pearls and matching sweater sets. I can get frustrated and loud, yet those women never seemed to get kerfluffled? What’s wrong with ME?!!!
Years ago, I discovered God’s prescription for inner beauty was a mixture of qualities that would complement even my energetic, demonstrative nature. Here are the qualities of a gentleness and quietness:
Gentleness: Maintaining a gracious attitude, friendly behavior and humble character.
Quietness: Choosing to possess tranquility, respectfulness and submissiveness as opposed to worry or rebelliousness.
First, how do we cultivate gentleness? Where do we start? One of the first steps would be self-awareness. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I don’t know how I look or sound to others. So, practice your conversations in front of the mirror. Pretend like you are talking to your family or friends and look at your facial expressions. Does your face look friendly and kind or put-upon and bothered? After self-awareness comes another tip: Just be nice to people. (Yep, I’m working on that, too…)
Now, quietness might be freaking some of you out right now. You saw the words “respect” and “submit” and you’re concerned that I’m going to try to sell you a page from “The Caveman Times.” I can see you rolling your eyes and saying:
“I’m a modern woman, Barb. Don’t you try to tell me that I should let someone rule over me.”
Ladies, respect and submission have nothing to do with coercion or weakness. In fact, they are wholly the opposite. Both are a 100% free act of the will. You can choose or not choose. Before you choose, answer this: What is the opposite of quietness? If the idea of not having the final say-so (control/manipulation) is so horrible for you, then what’s your other choice? Answer: It’s a life of constant worry and strife.
Some of you know what I’m talking about right now.
When you constantly fight for control or assert your right to be right in front of your spouse, kids, friends or co-workers, chances are that your life is filled with frustration, worry or strife. Might I ask with complete humility: How’s that working for you?
When life isn’t going our way, our first inclination is to rise up and fight for control. And the fighting and the resistance makes us miserable – and our reactions probably look pretty ugly. Yet, God has chosen women to be the standard-bearers of His beauty in our cold, harsh world. What kind of light for Christ could we be if we practiced the beauty of gentleness and humility?
Q4U: Which one – gentleness or quietness – feels like more of a challenge for you? Leave a comment below!
Thanks for stopping by! We’ve got just a few days left in the Beautiful Devotional and I hope that you’ve been blessed. I’d love to hear how God has used this devotional in your life. Feel free to leave a comment below! If this post has blessed you today, please share it with others!