Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
It was Jennifer Lopez who once said: “Beauty is only skin-deep. I think what’s really important is finding a balance of mind, body and spirit. Somebody said to me not too long ago, ‘Until you’re 20, you have the face you are born with, and after that you have the face you deserve’, and I really loved that—the idea that you wear who you are on your face.”
What do you think of that response? Is it true that beauty is only skin-deep? We place great value on outward beauty. Teenage magazines sponsor dream-guy and beauty-queen contests with emphasis on looks and personality. Men and women of all ages work, sweat, diet, and exercise to remain trim and avoid wrinkles. As for the inevitable ageing process, cosmetic and fashion companies provide expensive ways to cover it up and make us appear more beautiful than we look in the morning mirror.
In short, we emphasise skin-deep beauty. We would say, Yes—beauty is only skin deep, and yet psychologists are now saying that physical beauty can have a profound effect on people’s behaviour. For example, some studies have revealed that attractive-looking people tend to be treated with more respect than less attractive people—and they are generally perceived in a much better light, too.
What Matters Is How People Are Inside
We certainly do live in a superficial world. Beauty is about how you look on the outside, but it doesn’t make you a good or bad person. The phrase refers to the outward beauty of a person. Of course, we must realise that a person can be beautiful on the inside. Such a person is often referred to as a ‘lovely’ person.
However, when we refer to something beautiful we are usually referring to that something’s outward appearance. What the phrase tries to emphasise is that the outward appearance of a person counts for nothing, but it is what lies beneath the skin, the actual person him/herself is what really matters.
I believe the underlying message of this saying is completely true. It means that you shouldn’t care about what a person looks like because it’s only the outside. If someone is really good-looking and is a total jerk, do you think that you’d like that person? No way! If a person were ugly but really nice, would you like to spend time with that person? Probably yes. Beauty is just the outside, and the inside is what counts!
It basically means that one of the only things that should matter about a person is their personality. Not what they look like. Just because they are ‘beautiful’ on the outside doesn’t mean they are on the inside, the way they act. It means that what’s on the inside is what counts, your personality. It means that it shouldn’t matter what you look like on the outside; what matters is on the inside. Beauty is only the face; the real beauty is the personality.
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Lasting Beauty Comes From Deep Within the Soul
People who may not be attractive in their looks can have a greater impact on the world. For example, in May 2006, a 9-year-old boy named Jeremy Gabriel from Quebec in Canada was chosen to sing for the Pope in Rome’s Vatican city. He has a beautiful voice, but was born with a Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS), a rare birth defect that caused facial disfigurement and deafness. After he sang, many adults present were profoundly moved and wept because of the beautiful singing. Jeremy certainly is not a handsome boy, but his gift and sincerity is outstanding.
Why do we have such an emphasis today on the externals? Why do we take the outward appearance to determine what a person is really like? Some people I know feel they are inferior because they’re not attractive or as good-looking as others, and they feel rejected as a result. And that’s sad. Because real beauty, lasting beauty, comes from deep within the soul and heart, not from some superficial level.
That’s probably why the Bible says in Proverbs 31:30, referring specifically to women: “Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honours the Lord deserves to be praised”. And in the New Testament, Peter said: “Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewellery or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special” (1 Peter 3:3-4).