Sunday, January 13, 2013
"On Fire": "You Are the Most Beautiful of Women." (SOS 1:8-11)
"You are the most beautiful of women. Surely you know to follow the sheep and feed your young goats near the shepherds’ tent. My darling, you are like a mare among the king’s stallions.Your cheeks are beautiful with ornaments, and your neck with jewels. We will make for you gold earrings with silver hooks."---Song of Solomon 1:8-11(NCV)
Let's start this one off with a bit of "beauty reprogramming", shall we?
In order to lay the foundation for this message, we have to remember three things that the Word, which is Adonai (and I do that to remind us all that the Bible *is God's words*-John 1:1), says:
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."---Proverbs 31:30(NKJV)
"Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. "---I Peter 3:3-4(NKJV)
"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world."---I John 2:16(NKJV)
Remember that John 10:10 tells us that Satan *only comes* upon us in order to steal, kill and destroy. So, with that said, he does all that he can within his power to keep us from the *biblical truth* about *all things*--- including beauty. Therefore, the things that we have to keep in our mind and heart space at all times are:
Physical beauty passes swiftly.
The quiet and gentle spirit of a woman is what's truly beautiful to God.
Lust is not of the Father.
A lot of times, when I hear Christian woman talk about their struggles with beauty, having a spirit that will be pleasing to God never comes up. It's more about their breasts being too big or too small. Their figure being too curvy or too straight. Their lips being too full or not full enough. They want more of a butt or they feel like they have too much of one. They wish their hair was longer or a different texture. They wish their skin was lighter or darker. Their eyes and nose are too big or too small. And what's even worse is when they compare themselves to other women. "I wish I was as pretty as so-and-so." Remember that the definition of lust is not just having an intense sexual desire. It's also about having an overwhelming desire, period. And again, lust is not of God.
As I'm transforming more and more when it comes to my own issues with self-esteem (and a lot of it was because I didn't make my spirit as much of a priority as I do now), I see why the Lord made "Do not covet" one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17) and why he said that "A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones." (Proverbs 14:30-NKJV) It's, in part, to keep us centered on what's most important in all areas of our lives, including when it comes to our appearance.
Satan was once Lucifer. This means that he's a fallen angel (2 Corinthians 11:14). He's not a human being made of flesh. He knows that our bodies are decaying (Job 13:28). So, it's completely understandable why the thief would have us so consumed with something that the Word clearly tells us is temporary. *Looks are temporary*. Not just because someday we will all leave this life (Genesis 6:3) but because time changes the appearance of people. The way you looked at 15 is not the way you look (or looked) at 25 and it's not the way that you're going to look at 50. If you are so busy chasing after something that you've already been told is not God's top priority, you will end up neglecting what is: *your spirit*. And when you're not focused on being spiritually beautiful, two things end up happening:
1) You tend to attract people who think just like you do: they are consumed with physical appearance.
2) You end up putting so much energy into how you look that you don't prepare your spirit for becoming more mature or even being ready for marriage and here's the thing about that: Although the world would like us to think that they came up with the concept of both marriage and sex...THEY. DID. NOT. God is Spirit (John 4:24) and he is the One who said that it's not good for man to be alone; that a husband and wife were to be joined for the sake of becoming one and that they are to be naked and not ashamed. *God said all of that* (Genesis 2:24-25). This means that *above all else*, because God is Spirit, marital covenant is a spiritual union: the uniting of a male spirit in the form of a human body to a female spirit in the form of a human body.
Therefore, when we as women are trying to make ourselves (more) beautiful, this means that our spirits are to be our top priority when it comes to that word:
Beautiful: having beauty; having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind; excellent of its kind; wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying
Have you ever listened to one of your girlfriends vent when a relationship comes to an end? There is *plenty* of "he did this" and "he didn't do that" and yet, what did she say that her issues were? And deeper than that, if you had the opportunity to talk to the guy, it would probably be pretty fascinating to hear his side of things. A lot of people are so "sight-focused" that they don't even stop to think about if the person is beautiful to God in the sense of *him* getting great pleasure and/or them being delightful to his senses and mind; if he finds them to be excellent and wonderful. 'Cause here's the thing: Does God loves us all? Yes and exceedingly so (Jeremiah 31:3), but that doesn't (automatically) mean that we all are the true definitions of beautiful to him. I Peter 3 lets us know that. It doesn't say that no matter how we act, we're beautiful to God. Beautiful comes with certain qualities and as far as lasting beauty, the Word says that a quiet and gentle spirit is his definition of an incorruptible beauty. A lot of people may want to challenge that, but again, Lucifer was made *perfect in beauty* (Ezekiel 28:12). He definitely brings new meaning to "beauty ain't everything". And being that he had no flaw in how he looked (the Word doesn't even say that about Adam and the Woman), this means that he knows how to divert people visually so that the internal state of someone is not as important as it should be. It's his ultimate optical illusion: to have someone's appearance draw you in with your eyes as you give little thought to how what you see does or does not affect your soul.
And honestly, I discern (Proverbs 2) that a lot of marriages are suffering right at this very moment, in part, because women treat their husbands a lot like how we treat God; like we should be seen as having "beautiful spirits" no matter how we act and that's really not true. When a man makes a vow to God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-5) to love us for the rest of our lives, he should honor the promise, but as far as our beauty, that is something that we are responsible for. It is our responsibility to have qualities that give pleasure and satisfaction. It is our responsibility to work towards being a woman of excellence and it is our responsibility to be satisfying and pleasing. Hence the phrase "BE. BEAUTIFUL." It's an action term...it's something that we must *constantly* work at...*be-ing*.
Yeah. Folks don't like to hear that. We like to think that we can say and act however we want and it should be acceptable and the truth of the matter is that is not even close to being the case. In God's kingdom, there are consequences for all kinds of actions and for a relationship to work successfully, we have to be willing to *be beautiful* and that has so little to do with the face that we put on everyday. As a matter fact, it was wise when Oscar Wilde once said "A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction.” Some women are so busy "putting on" that *being* has not even touched their radar...and that's simply not good.
This is why I personally like that the first recorded statement of the Shulamite's beloved was that, to him, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her beauty was pleasing to him more than any other and I can't help but believe that a part of that was due to her spirit. It was *most* pleasing, *most* satisfying and *most* excellent both to and for him (Genesis 2:18). How many of you pray, "God, please help me to have a most excellent spirit?" It's definitely something to think about.
Her beloved didn't stop there, though.
He also said that she knew how to follow sheep. Due to the culture of that time, I'm pretty sure that he was referring to an actual occupation, but remember that I'm asking the Spirit for insight on how he wants this book of the Bible presented for this series and so immediately, this was the verse in Scripture that came to mind: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27-NKJV) I was in a counseling session recently and I was telling the husband, "I mean, how can you expect her to submit to you when she doesn't even do what God tells her to do?" When women are women of the God, they too should be near the shepherd and know how to follow him. And to a godly man, that's extremely attractive (and attracting).
The Shulamite's beloved said that she was a mare among the king's stallions. A mare is a female horse. It's kind of a long story (LOL) but I used to do quite a bit of "horse research". Therefore, I'm aware that Psalm 21:31(NKJV) says, "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord." Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us that we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities. Proverbs 31:10-31 pays homage to a woman who lived a life of preparation. How much preparation do you put into your life when it comes to preparing your home to be a place of safety from spiritual warfare? Whenever you are joined to your beloved, he needs to feel like he can *retreat* in your space, not that it's an all out war zone. Is your home one of peace? Is it filled with prayer and joy and rest? Would people associate your place with being comfortable and warm?
Let's keep going...
He also said that her cheeks were beautiful with ornaments and her necks had jewels. Now, I know that we spent a lot of time today talking about inner beauty because, after all, it is what's most important. However, I do get that I Peter 3:3(NKJV) starts out saying "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel..." Merely means "only", "simply" or "entirely". Therefore, there is something to be said for adorning ourselves on the outside. When's the last time you got yourself a facial or picked out a new shade of blush or lipstick? When's the last time that you purchased a piece of dangling earrings or a necklace to accentuate your neck? So many women want a man to celebrate them and guys are like, "Well shoot, maybe if you threw the 'I love myself party', I'd want to come." (LOL) The Shulamite's beloved praised her for being most beautiful and then went on to describe some of the ways that he noticed that *even she* knew that she was. Indeed, what we value, we tend to take care of and what we're in love with, we tend to go all out for. It's easier for a man to want to love you when you love you because he can trust that you're loveable (some of y'all will catch that later!).
And finally, he said that they would make some gold earrings for her...
This ending point is simple. If you are in a relationship right now, while it may not be "gold earrings", if the relationship is healthy and right, it will be within a man to want to give to you. We see far too many references of it in the Bible. Jacob worked for years for Rachel (Genesis 29:20). King Xerses offered Esther up to half of his kingdom (Esther 5:3). Elkanah gave his barren wife Hannah double portions (I Samuel 1:5). When the servant of Isaac knew that Rebekah was "the one" for his master, he pulled out a gold nose ring and two bracelets for her wrists (Genesis 24:22). At one point, Boaz declared this to Ruth: "Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman." (Ruth 3:10-11-NKJV) The moral to the story is this: When you are *the one*, the man will *give to you*. You won't have to ask. You won't have to hint. You won't have to beg or imply or manipulate. There will be something within him that *naturally* desires to do it *and then does it*. Just like the five men that I just mentioned and the beloved of the Shulamite woman. He will find that you bring so much into his life that he wants to give you more in return. (I hope y'all catch that because that is key!)
The picture up top is important as well because Psalm 33:15 tells us that the Lord fashions our hearts individually. This week, I encourage you to do some *deep soul searching* on what it means to be beautiful to God and what unique attributes, both inside and out, that he wants you to develop. And, as you're doing that ground work to *purge* all of the envy and insecurities that you may have.
Shoot, you think the Shulamite woman was the only attractive person that her beloved had ever seen before?
Yet, there was something so special, so significant, *so suitable to his spirit* that made her, to him...