One of my grandsons, who is five years old, was talking with my daughter (his mom) recently. She had asked him how his day went. He said that he had had a “pretty lady day.” His mom asked him what that meant. He said that he had seen a bunch of pretty ladies that day. He saw one on the way to school. He saw one in the cafeteria. He mentioned that his teacher was a pretty lady as well. Then he asked a penetrating question: “Mom, were you ever a pretty lady?”
His mom is also the mom of his two brothers, including a newborn. He sees his mom in the morning getting everybody ready for school. His littlest brother often spits up on her. She and her husband are running around like crazy people. Then, she works as an attorney to provide the things the family needs. When he gets home, she is planning the different activities of three small boys and where they have to go. Somewhere in there, she is getting dinner ready. How her hair looks or what stains might be on her clothes are not high priorities.
When she told me he asked that question, I told her I would have said, “Yes, I used to be a pretty lady. But I carried you for nine months, and that all changed!”
Of course, the little guy thinks the world of his mom. In his mind, she is the greatest woman he knows. I would add that he would even say she is the prettiest lady he knows.
Even if he wouldn’t say that last part now, he certainly will in the future. On his “pretty lady day,” he was judging beauty on a very superficial level. I don’t know what ladies he had seen that day, what their situations were, how young they are, or anything else about them. I am sure they were quite lovely.
But sometime in his life, probably sooner than later, he will realize how beautiful his mom is. What she has done, is doing, and will do for him sets her apart. She is not like any other lady he will ever see. If I live long enough, I have no doubt I will hear him say that his mom is the prettiest lady of them all.
The same principle is true on the spiritual level. What makes a Christian attractive before God? Or, if we put it another way, what makes us a “pretty” believer to others?
We could certainly answer that question on a superficial level. We could judge others like my grandson did on his pretty lady day.
If we do, we might say that a young, wise, highly educated, healthy, and rich believer is the picture of beauty. Perhaps we notice and admire those who seem to go through life with ease. They might even have time and money to make themselves especially attractive to those they meet. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But is that what makes a person pretty?
Peter discusses real beauty in 1 Pet 3:3-4. He is dealing with women, but what he says applies to men as well. A pretty woman is not one who is simply concerned with her hair, jewelry, and clothes. That is not how one is beautiful in the most important way.
Instead, true beauty is inward. It is a matter of the heart. Peter calls a gentle and quiet spirit a reflection of “incorruptible beauty.” Then he adds, such things are “very precious in the sight of God.”
Spiritually pretty ladies (and men) are those who are inwardly transformed by the Spirit of God (Rom 12:2). Often, they are not those the world notices as being attractive. Many times, they have been through the wringer. In a figurative way, they may even always look like a baby has thrown up on them. But they are gentle because they have been humbled by life’s difficulties. The Holy Spirit has made such a person more like Christ. In the eyes of God, they are really pretty.
My grandson’s question was hilarious. Because of his age, he could be excused for not recognizing who was really beautiful among the people in his life. But we should not be like that. Pretty ladies and gentlemen in the eyes of God cannot be judged by worldly standards. Beauty is not judged by outward looks but by actions that spring from a transformed spirit. Being like Christ is truly pretty (2 Cor 3:18).