1 Peter 3:3, 4
When a young bride prepares for her wedding, she wants to be beautiful for the man she is about to marry. She goes to the salon to have her hair fixed and her nails manicured. Everything has to look as perfect as possible for that moment when she says “I do” to her husband at the church altar.
It is right and normal for a woman to desire to look gorgeous for this long-awaited moment in her life. But when I am the one performing the wedding ceremony, there always comes a point in the ceremony when I peer into the eyes of the beautiful young bride and tell her:
“Today you look so beautiful in your white wedding gown. You are the perfect picture of a gorgeous bride. But a day will come when your body will begin to change, when wrinkles will start to appear, and gravity will begin to move things from where they used to be! When that day comes—and it will come—the most beautiful thing you’ll have to offer your husband will not be your body but a godly, beautiful, unfading spirit. Never forget that your spirit is what will make your husband think you are beautiful to the very last day of your life!”
People in the audience always giggle when I say these words. Most of these giggles come from people who are middle-aged and who see wrinkles when they look in the mirror. They are beginning to experience the middle-aged effects of gravity! Parts of their bodies that used to be strong and firm are starting to droop, and they feel tempted to lament when they look in the mirror.
That’s why it’s important to remember that the most beautiful thing a wife has to offer her husband is not her body but her spirit. The good news is that when the body begins to show signs of age, the human spirit remains remarkably free from its effects. This is why Paul said, “… Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Perhaps you can think of a time when you met an elderly man or woman who was so young at heart that it simply amazed you. Now you know why! The process of aging affects the human body, but it has no effect on the spirit.
When Peter wrote to wives in First Peter 3, he instructed them to give attention to the “hidden man of the heart.” These words are very significant, for they refer here to the spirit of a godly woman. The word “hidden” is the word kruptos, which describes something that is hidden or veiled from the eyes. The word “heart” is the Greek word kardia, which is the Greek word for the physical organ of the heart. Just as the physical organ of the heart is hidden from human sight, so the inner man is not visible to the natural eye.
By using the word kardia (the Greek word for the “heart”), Peter is giving us a powerful insight regarding the human spirit. The heart is the central vital organ of the body. Although the heart is invisible to natural sight, the human body cannot live without it. The heart has a direct impact on every single part of the body as it pumps blood through arteries and many miles of blood vessels.
Paul uses the word kardia (“heart”) to let us know that the human spirit is very similar to the natural heart. For instance, although the human spirit is invisible to the eyes, it is vital to life. According to James 2:26, where there is no spirit, the physical body dies. Thus, the spirit is the life-giving force within a human being.
The natural heart pumps blood into every part of the body and thereby influences a person’s ability to live and function. Similarly, whatever is produced in the human spirit determines the ultimate outcome of a person’s life. If a person’s spirit is filled with darkness, it will pump darkness into every part of that person’s life. On the other hand, if a person’s spirit is filled with the life of God, it will pump life into every part of that person’s being. Whatever is in the spirit is exactly what will be reproduced in a person’s life and conduct.
This is precisely why Peter urges wives to take time and care to develop their spirits, which he calls “the hidden man of the heart.” A woman who wants to be truly beautiful, even after her body begins to age, must put time and effort into the development of her spirit.
You see, there are many outwardly beautiful people who are inwardly wicked; therefore, their beauty is only skin deep—neither long-lasting nor impressive. Although these people spend hours adorning and grooming themselves, what is inside them is projected clear through their outer adornment. Since they are actually unkind and inwardly ugly people, their inner ugliness ruins the effect of their physical beauty and causes them to be perceived as unattractive people. The truth is, some of the meanest and most wicked, vile people in the world are physically beautiful, yet their inner attitudes cause them to be very repulsive to those around them.
Peter is addressing this exact issue in First Peter 3:3, 4. Because the human spirit is the life-force of an individual, he encourages women to not only fix their faces and their hair, but to also beautify their spirits, even though the spirit man is invisible to the natural eye.
Peter also declares that the hidden man of the heart is that part of the human being that is “incorruptible.” The word “incorruptible” is the Greek word aphthartos, which refers to something that is incapable of decay or something that is incapable of suffering the effects of wear, tear, and age. This word clearly describes the hidden part of the human being that never grows old or experiences the effects of aging.
As my wife grows older, I look upon her with greater respect than ever before. Honestly, I think she is physically beautiful and I am honored to be married to such an attractive woman. But what makes her most beautiful to me is not her hair, her face, her figure, or her clothing. The most beautiful part of my wife is her heart. The sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ emanates from her heart, through her attitudes, and into her words and actions, making her one of the loveliest people I’ve ever known.
Of course, I appreciate the fact that Denise works hard to stay in shape, to eat right, and to look so striking every day. The way she dresses reveals her character and desire to be excellent in everything she does. I am very aware that another reason she diligently works to look beautiful is that she wants to honor me by looking nice.
As a husband, I have a responsibility, as every husband does, to acknowledge when my wife looks beautiful. She needs that acknowledgement from me. But the part of Denise that first captured my heart and continues to do so today is not her body; it is her heart. Her heart is so beautiful that it makes me stand back and watch her with great admiration!
I regularly observe and take note of what Denise does to keep her heart in this godly shape. She rises early to read her Bible and to seek the face of God. When the rest of us are still sleeping, she kneels on the floor in her prayer room to pray and to worship. She weeps before the Lord as He deals with her about the attitudes He wants to change in her. She spends hours asking Him to change her and to make her more like Him.
Because my wife has made the development and maturity of her spirit such a central focus in her life, I can tell you that she continually captures my heart. Although we are getting older and our bodies are beginning to change, she is more gorgeous to me today than ever before. I know that as we grow older and older, she will only become more beautiful, because as the flesh wanes, it will only make it more possible for her dynamic heart to shine brighter!
As noted in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, God is not against women using cosmetics, wearing jewelry, or arraying themselves in fine clothing. But all the world’s finest jewelry and most expensive makeup and clothing cannot make a person with an ugly heart look beautiful. Whatever is in the spirit is exactly what will be reproduced in a person’s life.
Wife, I urge you to take heed to Peter’s plea in these verses. For the sake of both your marriage and your personal walk with God, make the decision to not only adorn your outward appearance, but also to turn your attention to the hidden man of the heart.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me give adequate attention to my heart so I can develop my spirit and become more godly in how I live my life. I pray that the strength and godliness that resides in my spirit will manifest in my life, emanating from within me and making me more gracious and more beautiful the older I get. I look to You, Lord, for help in growing old gracefully and emanating power in my older years.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that my spirit is getting stronger and stronger as I get older. My inner man is adorned with godliness and grace. The older I get, the more visible my inward man becomes—and what is seen coming from within me makes me attractive, even though I am getting a little wrinkled and gravity is having its effects on my physical form. I am inwardly strong and beautiful, and this inner beauty is what attracts people to me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What are you doing on a daily basis to develop the inner beauty within you?
- Can you name some individuals who grew more powerful and more beautiful the older they became? What is it that strikes you most about these individuals?
- Why don’t you take the time to ask a few of these individuals to tell you the secret of their beauty in their latter years?