What does the Bible say about physical appearance?

What does the Bible say about physical appearance and serving the Lord?

The best example I could find on this theme concerns Isaiah 53:2, where it is clear that Christ came in the physical form of an ordinary person, he was not obviously divine:

Isaiah 53:2 “2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

I believe we should try to emulate Christ as closely as possible, whether we are male or female believers, as per the scriptures below:

1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

John 13:14-16 “14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

Another scripture that pertains to all believers, reminding us not to make physical beauty an idol:

1 Samuel 16:7 “7 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.”

And for women who believe, the following scriptures are helpful:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 “9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 “3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Many women today wear makeup, including Christian women. The question that female believers should ask themselves is: what is your motive for doing so?

We must always examine ourselves to prove that what we are doing stems from faith:

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

If you are wearing makeup to tempt others, then this is a sin. Paul reminds women to be modest. 1 Peter 3:4 (see above) reminds women to have a meek and quiet spirit. Our motives should not be to draw attention to ourselves. We should be very careful not to be motivated by haughtiness. A woman who was, sadly, motivated by haughtiness will be briefly discussed later on in this article.

More scripture passages on women who profess to serve the Lord and physical appearance:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 “9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Isaiah 3:16-17 “Moreover the Lord saith,
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes,
walking and mincing as they go,
and making a tinkling with their feet:
17 therefore the Lord will smite with a scab
the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion,
and the Lord will discover their secret parts.”

1 Corinthians 6:12 “12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

1 Corinthians 10:14 “14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”

Romans 14:21 “21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”

Jezebel – an example not to follow:
Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, a heathen nation (1 Kings 16:30-32). She was responsible for the deaths of many of the Lord’s prophets (1 Kings 18:14). She also incited and aided her husband Ahab to murder Naboth so Ahab could take possession of the vineyard Naboth inherited as part of the Lord’s promise to Israel (1 Kings 21:1-15). Ruthless and conniving, Jezebel was judged by God in the end and cast into the streets as dung. Dogs ate her body so that only her skull, feet and palms of her hands were left. Jehu called her “cursed” so I believe people would do well to look into her character and manner of life as it is sure to be instructive. She clearly took great pride in her appearance as per the scripture passage below:

2 Kings 9:30 “30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.”

The Lord also makes reference to “Jezebel” in Revelation 2:20, noting that she incites his people to fall into sexual immorality and to worship idols instead of the one true God:

“20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”

I thought it would be fitting to end this article with the following scripture, as it shows we must follow God and let him shape us into people for whom inner, spiritual beauty is to be cultivated over external beauty:

Ephesians 5:1-7 “5 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.”

 

2 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about physical appearance?

  1. Hi Naomi,

    I too have found that the Bible has LOTS to say about our appearance. I have just today read Genesis 12 where in verses 11 & 14 it says that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was of very beautiful countenance. Her appearance attracted unwanted attention unfortunately, but God protected her.

    I went through a period of my life when I struggled with understanding what was right to wear etc, but I prayed much and have been led by the Lord and scriptures to dress more modestly.
    I wrote an article about what I’d learnt, (https://grainofwheatblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/why-modesty-matters-for-christian-women-2/) which influenced me to change many items in my wardrobe.
    Ultimately it is the Lord I want to please, not my own flesh/self-esteem.

    You refer to make-up. Yes, it can be used to be seductive, or to attract attention, but also it can just be used to “be less scary”. Lol 🙂 I have skin problems, and I have to use make up to cover lots of blemishes and rashes unfortunately. People who have good skin are blessed indeed if they can go make-up free.

    Anyway, it’s nice to come accross your blog.

    Love in Christ,
    Helen

    • Thanks Helen for your thoughtful comment. I too struggle at times with what to wear including makeup. I went through chemotherapy just over a year ago and find if I use no makeup at all I do indeed look scary!

      Thank you for sharing and welcome to this blog. 🙂

      Love in Christ,
      Naomi

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