“I just want to be beautiful.”
Not a surprising statement from a young girl just beginning to enter womanhood. My first response to her was, “a much better goal would be to be beautiful on the inside!”. I loved having the opportunity to talk to her about what the Bible says regarding beauty; that she is God’s beautiful creation and that no matter what the world says, her beauty is not found by looking in a mirror, but by looking at her heart.
Beauty in our culture is highly controversial and grossly overrated. We all know that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, but the Bible says something even more profound:
“A beautiful woman who rejects good sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.” Proverbs 11:22
I don’t know why, but I love that verse!
While it makes me smile every time I read it and piglets can sure be cute, there is a somber realization that we place far too much emphasis on what the world calls valuable.
If you read Chapter 11 of Proverbs you will see 31 verses that list 31 different proverbs. As I said in yesterday’s post, Wisdom’s Lesson, Chapters 10-24 are a compilation or collection of Solomon’s Proverbs, and so while we could look at each one of them individually, today I am looking at how they all tie together.
When I read Chapter 11, the first thought that jumped out at me (besides how many gems will have to be uncovered later), was the word righteous, or righteousness.
In our country, there is a legal process by which an individual or a business can file for bankruptcy through the U.S. bankruptcy code, or Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This happens when the person or business has completed deleted all of their resources and can no longer pay their bills.
Chapter 11 of Proverbs defines very clearly the result of moral bankruptcy, showing the difference between righteousness and wickedness. Righteousness can be mistakenly construed as perfection, when in reality it is more clearly defined as “right living based on God’s principles”. The word “righteous” is defined [dictionary.com] as “acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.”
From advice on dishonesty, pride, and perversity to warnings about gossip and greed, Proverbs 11 paints a very clear picture of what Chapter 11 Moral Bankruptcy looks like. While we can be tickled about the visual picture of a gold ring in a pig’s snout, there is nothing humorous about the consequences of wickedness: “disgraced (v. 2), trapped (v. 6), troubled (v.8), cursed (v.26)” and more.
While it may sound harsh, the Bible is often very black and white about actions=consequences.
“Genuine righteousness leads to life, but pursuing evil leads to death.” Proverbs 11:19
Just like a parent who warns his child to stay away from burning coals in a fire, God loves us so much that He warns us of those things that will burn us if we get too close.
But that’s not all He has to say.
Too often the world looks at God’s commandments as restrictive, when in reality they are freeing! He doesn’t just tell us what we are to stay away from–He shows us what is good and true and right. We have to do our part, of course. We have to read the whole story. His Story. Beginning to end, He is faithful to show us through history and through the revelation of His Word how we should live, leaving us to choose which way we will go.
As I am reminded today of that glamorous pig, I want to see myself the way God sees me. There is a reflection of your heart. Your shining moment may come in a way you least expect it. There’s an old saying that goes like this, “trash in, trash out”. I’ve heard it said that pigs will eat almost anything–even what we would call trash. I don’t know about you, but I want to His truth to fill me–to fill my heart and mind so that I reflect His righteousness. His goodness. His kindness.
“… but the righteous will flourish like foliage.” Proverbs 11:28
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…” Proverbs 11:30