“Favor is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
As a young church girl, I thought this scripture meant that it was wrong to be beautiful, that I shouldn’t want the favor of anyone, and that I should be afraid of God.
Wow was I off!
Many other times in Proverbs it is said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The understanding of fear that I had as a child is not the kind of fear God desires of us. We should fear Him like we fear fire; a better word may be RESPECT. When we don’t understand God’s heart–or fire–we will run away from it instead of enjoying it.
When we are afraid of God we may work with all our might for His approval–that was me, I really had to wrestle with the meaning of this verse because I wanted to please God, but beauty was my passion.
I wanted to be beautiful, but with the false understanding that it was wrong, I tried to fulfill my own desires by making other women look beautiful instead. I loved being a cosmetologist, I didn’t mind standing in front of a mirror making others look prettier than me because I was numb to the disappointments of my own reflection.
Then I learned first hand that “favor is deceitful.”
Ten days after finding out I was pregnant, my (now ex) husband left me for other women, and I felt the pain of favor-turned-bad. Being betrayed by the man I loved dearly was a deep rejection, and it began a Beauty Battle within me. I began to compare myself to other women constantly. That’s when I began my experience with vanity…
vanity |ˈvanətē| noun ( pl. -ties) 1 excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements 2 the quality of being worthless or futile
I began to understand what God’s Word meant by “beauty is vain.” It can make us prideful, and it can blind us to the value we have as a creation of God. I think Proverbs 31:30 is really saying is that seeking after beauty is like chasing the wind: vain.
vain |vān| adjective 1 having or showing an excessively high opinion of one's appearance, abilities, or worth 2 [ attrib. ] producing no result; useless • having no meaning or likelihood of fulfillment
I no longer think that the God who created so much beauty disapproves of it. Now I have no doubt that He not only loves beauty, He longs to be known for it. I also think He wants us women to stop putting so much hope in appearance. Just as a loved one’s favor may change, so does our beauty. Chasing after such things is futile, instead we should chase after the One who created us, enjoy His beauty and fear Him only.
Lord, Thank you for putting so much beauty in Your creation. Help me to be a reflection of your glory without becoming obsessed with my image or others’ opinions. It is You only that I fear, and your favor alone that I seek. You do not look at my outward appearance, but at my heart. Help me to do the same with others, and with myself. Amen
Catrina Welch is an image- and life-coach whose message is not as much “what not to wear” as it is, “Know Who You Are,” which is the title of her book of guidelines for your personal image identity. Catrina has also written a Bible study to help women overcome their image issues. It is titled Supreme MakeOver: a Rich and Refreshing Devotional Experience. Her other books include Footprints Through the Sand: a Consolidation of Life-altering stories about Loving and Loosing a Trisomy-18 Baby and Confident Beauty: Reflecting the One Who Made You with the Images in Your Mirror and Your Soul.