Beauty and the Ugly
One of my favorite stories and movies of all time is “Beauty and the Beast.” In this fascinating fairy tale, Beast ultimately and magically turns into a handsome prince. Of course! It’s a fairy tale! Let me break it to you gently: This is not the way it works in real life. Ugly never miraculously transforms into beauty. Ugly must be kicked out altogether!
As humans, we tend to focus more on our outward appearance than we do on our inward appearance. We want to look good because that’s what other people see when they look at us. We can spend a lot of time and money trying to look good and gain someone’s approval—makeup just right, every hair colored and in place, perfect nails, and fashion-statement clothes. Yes, we should take care of our bodies, and it’s okay to look our best, but not to the neglect of our inward appearance for that is where real and everlasting beauty resides.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7). “And he who searches our hearts knows…” (Romans 8:27).
Let’s look at a couple mother/daughter combinations we find in the Bible. Jezebel was married to King Ahab of Israel who was her puppet, because she was a bully and she was the one who ruled the kingdom. She murdered God’s prophets. She murdered Naboth so she could steal his land. There was a lot of ugly in Jezebel.
“Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window” (2 Kings 9:30). Eye makeup and a fancy hairstyle can never cover up ugly.
Growing up in Jezebel’s house was a little girl, her daughter named Athaliah, who was learning a lot from watching her mother. Athaliah chose to be like her mother and even worse. She married King Jehoram of Judah. She murdered some of her own children and grandchildren so she could rule Judah for six years before she was put to death.
Now let’s look at a mother and daughter in the New Testament, Lois and Eunice. They loved God and loved the Scriptures, and they were the grandmother and mother of Timothy. From them, Timothy obtained his intimate knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures (2 Timothy 1:5). He was a great leader in the early church. Both grandmother and mother had a huge impact on Timothy.
Jezebel and Athaliah led many to their death. Timothy led many to eternal life in Jesus Christ. A lot of ugly lived inside of Jezebel and Athaliah; a lot of beauty lived inside Lois, Eunice, and Timothy. What lives inside eventually comes out.
Now the ugly is sin, and the beauty is the Lord. It’s not “what” is the beauty inside of us; it’s “Who” is the beauty inside of us. The inward beauty is Jesus.
We all grow up with beauty and ugly, and some experience more ugly than beauty. However, each one of us gets to choose what or Who lives within us. When we believe in Jesus Christ, who He is and what He did for us on the cross, and we ask Him to forgive our sin and come into our heart, He does.
Ugly can also be the sin of another committed against us that we were powerless to do anything about. This ugly can produce pain, anger, guilt, shame, unforgiveness, and darkness inside of us. Ugly will never become less or disappear on its own. We must give this ugly to Jesus as well. Only He has the power to remove ugly and its destruction.
What then? We must grow in His beauty. How do we do that? Prayer, reading our Bible, attending church, praise and worship, Christian friends, serving, giving, and obeying the Lord. Beauty grows and fills the empty space once occupied by ugly. This is a picture of true beauty, grace and freedom.