Thinking about Beauty and Desire
Beauty in Nature
Beauty abounds in the world. It rests like a butterfly on a flower; it glows with the ghostly colors of the rainbow. It travels in lightning, and it burns in flames. Sometimes we find it frozen in a diamond; sometimes it is buried in the sand. And wherever we find beauty, we respond to it with delight.
We take pictures of it. We take it home with us. We seek to replicate it with our words, our painting, and our architecture. Sometimes we even wear it on us: we like to surrounded by it, touched by it, and filled by it. Beauty is a precious and delightful thing, something good in a world that is sometimes bad.
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30, KJV).
The problem with beauty is that it isn’t always true to the nature of its vessel, especially when it rests on human beings. A man may be handsome, and a woman may be beautiful, and they still may lack character and be inclined to do wrong. Their beauty only distracts us from the most important question: what kind of relationship does this person have with God? Even a prophet can be deceived by what he sees with his eyes.
“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, KJV).
Our attention, then, must not be on a person’s appearance, but on their character and spiritual maturity. These two qualities are of much more value than beauty itself.
Beauty that Dies
“All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth” (Isaiah 40:6-7).
Beauty is temporal. Flowers wilt and crumble, human beings grow old and turn to dust. Sometimes people are even disfigured by accidents and disease. There really isn’t any guarantee in this life that the beauty we see today will last to tomorrow.
As we look to love someone, anyone, we must take this in consideration. We must realize that our relationship with this special person must be based on something more substantial than good looks. We must care about their soul, who they really are before the Lord, and what is their eternal destiny.
The fact is that even a bad attitude can be the death of our romance.
“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (Proverbs 21:9, KJV).
From Desire to Praise
“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon” (2 Samuel 11:2, KJV).
As followers of Christ, we must be more conscientious of how we respond to beauty. As I mentioned in the introduction, we usually respond to beauty by wanting to possess it for ourselves, but that is not the best response. David looked at the beauty of Bathsheba, and he desired her beauty for his own pleasure. Nevertheless, God tells us that there are situations when we must resist our desires.
“Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids” (Proverbs 6:25, KJV).
Many times, we need to understand that the beauty we see in other human beings and in the world is only a reflection of God’s goodness, from when He created the Heaven and the Earth. We should respect it and praise Him for it. Our grandest response to beauty, even that in other human beings, is to praise God.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14, KJV)
When God first created the cosmos and life, He created beauty to be a physical reflection of God’s goodness and the goodness that filled his creation. That first world was not marred by sin, and thus beauty in humanity would not have been vain: for human beings were filled with virtue. But that has changed.
How are you responding to the beauty you see in the world and in others? Are you seeking to possess it as your own, or are you seeking to glorify God for the great things that He has done?
© 2016 Marcelo Carcach