In the course of a year, $8 billion dollars is spent in the United States on cosmetics. Over a lifetime, a typical women spends $15,000 on makeup products.

That’s a huge investment in outward beauty. And it’s not just money. According to a Today/AOL report completed in 2014, the average woman takes 55 minutes to run through her daily beauty routine.

Interestingly, while men still appear to be far behind the women in spending time and money this way, recent studies seem to show them beginning to close the gap.

Looking back on the beauty routines of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, none of this represents anything new, I’d guess.

There’s absolutely nothing sinful about investing modest sums in enhancing one’s physical beauty, as long as we do not somehow wrap our identity (and even our destiny) around such things. That being said, in ancient times and in modern, what has always been most needed is beauty of the heart and mind.

When a woman finds her identity in Christ, her inner confidence, peace and joy begin to radiate to the outside. As faith in Jesus’ love and goodness grows, true, inner beauty glows brighter and brighter. A woman who knows to the depth of her very being that she is God’s daughter, and carries herself that way, will always possess that something extra.

Inward beauty trumps outward beauty any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. It’s value is infinitesimally greater, as the author of Proverbs 31 notes. While the added value is huge to the woman herself, to her family members and business partners, none will see the value of a woman of noble character more clearly than the woman’s husband.

Some may consider this section rather “old fashioned.” But broaden it out. How many companies have failed in recent years from “all star” CEO’s having abysmal failures of character? They may have had all kinds of wonderful talents and abilities. But in the end, what truly counted was their character.

The book of Proverbs begins as a father’s advice to his son. And one way of looking at the final chapter of Proverbs is to see it as a father’s advice to his daughter. So maybe the question is simply this, “What do we want to see our daughters grow up to become? What beauty do we want them to see as their true beauty?”

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12, NIV).

Jesus, help our daughters to grow up to be beautiful in your sight. May we have both men and women of gospel-motivated character in positions of leadership in our world so that our world may continue in peace and harmony, with great productivity. And through this, Lord, may your name be glorified and your kingdom come, as the gospel reaches to the ends of the earth.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, December 26, is Nehemiah 5:1 – 7:3, Revelation 18:1-17 and Proverbs 31:10-20.

Header image based on "Girl in Make-Up Mirror" by Saxbald Street Photography, CC By 2.0

Faith: Personal, But Not Private

Interestingly, there are two definitions of the word “personal” and they often intertwine. But in the case of faith, the two definitions really need to be separated.

Definition one is “of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.” This definition fits well with our Christian faith. Your faith in Jesus is personally planted in your heart by the Holy Spirit, who does his work on your heart via the Bible and Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Many people may share your faith. But your faith and your relationship to God is yours. No one can force this faith on you, as John the apostle points out in his gospel: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13, NIV).

Definition two is “of or concerning one’s private life, relationships, and emotions rather than matters connected with one’s public or professional career.”

Look at anyone in the Bible who was a disciple of Jesus and you’ll soon realize that with faith in Jesus, what’s there privately in our hearts will always make it’s way publicly out of our mouth. It’s called professing our faith. And all the disciples written about in the Bible did it.

Paul says that publicly professing our faith is actually a necessary response to having faith in our hearts — necessary, that is, in the sense that it will always occur. Paul himself is a great example of this. We read about Paul in the days following his conversion to faith in Jesus that, “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20, NIV).

It’s such an important distinction for every Christ-follower to understand. Is your Christian faith personal? Of course! It’s deeply personal! Your relationship with Jesus is your relationship with him, and it belongs to no one else but you. You filter your life, your thoughts, your emotions, and your experiences through the “eyes” of faith that the Holy Spirit has given you.

Is your Christian faith private? Only if you are living in fear rather than faith. Because the most natural act of the person who believes in Jesus is “at once” to profess to others that Jesus is the Son of God.

“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame'” (Romans 10:8-11, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Monday, July 27, is 1 Chronicles 2:18 – 4:8, Romans 10:8 – 11:10 and Proverbs 18:7-16.

Lord, help me to profess with my mouth what I believe in my heart about Jesus.

Header image based on "I profess" by Leon Fishman, CC By 2.0