Beauty Humility and Singleness
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” I Peter 3:3-4
Loads of sermons have been preached on this topic, and massive theological arguments have been built on this verse, and being neither a preacher nor a theological scholar, I can only look at this from the standpoint of someone who reads Scripture to simply hear from God and find what applies to me.
Let me set this up briefly on the front end. As singles, we often look at our lives and ask ourselves what may need to change before we will be noticed, pursued, and wooed. Very well-meaning individuals around us, particularly those happily married and thus far removed from our situation, might “help” us along by pointing us to Scriptures that would “improve” our eligibility.
I often felt that even though I strove to do EVERYTHING they told me to do, for some reason those boys still would not ask me out! Try as I might, I could not find any way to make myself more eligible. Now, I understand that some single women might have legitimate issues, but a majority of the single women I know are simply wonderful. So my conclusion leads to the following: let the single women strive to grow in Christ together, independent of trying to attract a man’s attention.
Looking at this Scripture from a strictly “growing in Christ” perspective, then, we can throw out all that junk that people try to draw out as application for single women. Namely, that we need to stop focusing on our outward appearance, or that we need to be “quiet” – a difficult task, I know, for those more inclined to leadership. I know that I have grown tired of others admonishing me to change into some sort of meek, unattractive, quiet woman, which makes no sense to me as an independent modern woman.
Notice that the “gentle and quiet spirit” is precious to God. For this reason, I would like to focus my application on this phrase. God’s Word holds many examples of amazing godly women in many different situations with different personalities. We can find distinct differences between women like Sarah, Tamar, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, and Abigail. They all lived out the above Scripture, but in different ways, with different interpretations of a “gentle and quiet spirit.”
Sarah submitted to Abraham’s direction, though she had no promise from the Lord herself until she heard the angels talking (Genesis 12-18). Tamar submitted to her father-in-law, but took initiative to seek justice for herself with God’s blessing (Genesis 38). Rahab took initiative to secure safety for herself and her family by submitting to the request of the Israelite spies (Joshua 2). Deborah judged and led the whole of Israel (while submitting to her husband) yet she still encouraged the men to lead the army (Judges 4). Ruth secured provision and safety for herself and Naomi by strategically placing herself humbly at Boaz’s feet (Ruth 3). Abigail intervened with grace and humility to protect the life of her wicked husband and also to protect David’s honor (I Samuel 25).
Notice in all the examples above the thread running through each story – a small but important theme: humility. A “gentle and quiet spirit” does not mean “mild-mannered” or “weak”, but “humble”. As you might know, the Bible has much to say on the subject of humility. For the sake of my argument, though, let us focus on the “growing in Christ” theme and look at humility in view of Jesus Himself.
Paul describes Jesus’ attitude of humility and our need to emulate that life in Philippians 2:3-18. Jesus simply lived in obedience to God – the key to His humility. Therefore, even when He suffered in the flesh, He remained in a state of peace in His heart, knowing that He came to do God’s will. That earnest desire to please God superceded every reaction of the flesh. We know from other Scriptures that Jesus did not have a mild-mannered or weak personality, despite the typical religious picture of Him. Tossing over tables in the temple and chewing out the Pharisees could hardly come from a weak person!
No, Jesus lived humbly, and that humility gave Him a deep peace in His heart no matter the situation He walked through (i.e. a “gentle and quiet spirit”). Thus, as single women, and even when we marry and become wives, we ought to live as Christ did – with a gentle and quiet spirit. I can speak boldly, and still walk in humility. I can even lead others, and still walk in humility.
We are all created unique in Christ. Sisters, let us not be concerned or worried or fret about our outward appearance, or quirks, or personality, but let us walk in humility exactly as God made us!
Written by Leah Nichols. Leah writes in her spare time. She live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse.