I think we all know the cliche, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But isn’t that too shallow? Are we really saying that beauty is only what we can see on the surface? Instead, I think we should say, “True beauty is in the heart of the beholder.”
Where does beauty begin? What is its source?
Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I can only love others to the level that I love myself, and that also means that I can only see beauty in others as I see it in myself. But if I try to achieve this by just loving myself or telling myself how beautiful I am, my pride comes in and crumbles the whole foundation.
So the first thing Jesus told us was to go to the Source—to Love Himself: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30-31). When we come to our Heavenly Father through our beautiful Savior we discover how beautiful we are in Him. We are clothed in the righteous robes of Jesus, which makes us as beautiful as He is. Then our Father sings His love to us (see Song of Songs 2:10, 4:7).
The dictionary defines beauty this way: “The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind.” But the word beauty originated from a Latin word that meant good or virtuous. Sadly, our vain world has made beauty something that is only skin deep, and very rarely is someone’s goodness or virtue described as beautiful.
Let me say it again: “True beauty is in the heart of the beholder.” Peter and Jesus both make this same point, reminding us that something beautiful on the outside can actually be covering up something quite ugly on the inside, or to say it another way: true beauty is far deeper than merely what we see with our eyes (1 Peter 3:3-4; Matthew 23:27).
On the other hand, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus that, “there was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him” (Isaiah 53:2 NLT). Outwardly, especially at His crucifixion, Jesus was grotesque, but this ugliness was our ugliness—our sin, and our disease, and our pride that Jesus took on Himself. He willingly took on our ugliness to allow us to exchange ashes for beauty, mourning for rejoicing, and sin for righteousness (Isaiah 53:2-5; 61:1-2, 9-10).
So in prayer, we go to the One who isn’t beautiful in the eyes of a vain world. Jesus made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, He came not to be served but to serve, He washed dirty feet, He hung out with sinners, He didn’t stay at the Ritz (He didn’t even have a home of His own), and He had only one set of clothes to wear. But He willingly took on all of our pain and sin so that He could take away our ugly robes and clothe us in His beautifully perfect robe of righteousness.
Looking at True Beauty is the only way I can see myself correctly. Looking at True Beauty I can see the intrinsic worth and beauty in others.
Prayer takes me to the beautiful Savior. Prayer reveals Christ’s beauty in me. Prayer brings His beauty to a vain world.
“Without prayer the Christian life, robbed of its sweetness and its beauty, becomes cold and formal and dead; but rooted in the secret place where God meets and walks and talks with His own, it grows into such a testimony of divine power that all men will feel its influence and be touched by the warmth of its love.” —E.M. Bounds
I pray that we will know this truth—that true beauty is in the heart of the beholder—and that we will truly know that Real Beauty is only found when we gaze at our beautiful Savior.
If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series on prayer called Awesome: Learning to pray in the awesome name of Jesus, you can find all of the messages by clicking here.