Beauty seems to be one of the defining ways we understand the modern world. Celebrities are assessed on their outward appearance, while billion-dollar industries exist to help us feel better about the way we look.
Unlike values such as truth and hope – about which the Bible is universally positive – the Scriptures are a little more ambivalent about beauty.
Beauty is certainly seen as God-given, but to focus too much on outward appearance is almost always seen as a bad thing.
Here are six scriptures to help us ponder the issue and get the value of beauty in context:
1. One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple' (Psalm 27:4).
2. 'Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight' (1 Peter 3: 3-4)
3. 'The glory of youths is their strength, but the beauty of the aged is their grey hair' (Proverbs 20:2).
4. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God' (Isaiah 62: 2-3).
5. 'Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendour that I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God' (Ezekiel 16:14).
6. 'The rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away' (James 1: 10-11).