We read each other much more effectively than we realise. We read that inner beauty. As Dorothy Parker put it: “‘Pretty’ is skin deep but ‘Ugly’ goes clean to the bone.”
That’s the reason why Steve Maraboli (in Life, The Truth and Being Free) encouraged people to “Get off the scale!” “You are beautiful. Your beauty, just like your capacity for life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable. Day after day, countless people across the globe get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance.
Get off the scale! I have yet to see a scale that can tell you how enchanting your eyes are. I have yet to see a scale that can show you how wonderful your hair looks when the sun shines its glorious rays on it. I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.
It’s true, the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!”
The same plot line emerges in 1 Peter 3:1-4, where Peter, speaking in the context of married partnerships, writes: “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.
Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.
The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.”
In the context of the time, this was revolutionary stuff. To tell women that they were the equal of their husbands was little short of scandalous. And to remind husbands that their wives lacked their advantages was not patronising but merely factual.
The “new life of God’s grace” that the women of the early church were being invited into was a life of astonishing freedom. This statement of real equality before God meant if the men failed in this regard, then their own prayers would lack potency. It meant that the women would be free to be “unanxious and unintimidated” and so, “true daughters of Sarah.” They were reminded too that they would have influence over husbands who ”indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty.”
The principle is to deal with the inside you. How do I cultivate inner beauty?
Why, it’s the easiest thing in the world! It starts with a recognition of who you are in Christ (read Psalm 139 or Ephesians 1) and then works its way into all the things Steve was mentioning up above: “…your compassion, sense of humor, and contagious smile… your perseverance when challenged in life… beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love.”
Everything is yours. And you are God’s.