Proverbs 31:30 (ESV) instructs us: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
“But, you don’t know me until you know my faith and my ministry: what God has called me to do,” was my response when a new relationship turned more serious after a few contacts. “But I want to court you, to woo you, to make you feel special and protected.”
That was way too much attention much faster than I felt comfortable. Some are obviously more attracted to my outer beauty rather than my inner self.
After re-entering the dating scene three years post-divorce, these words did sound appealing. I want to feel special and protected by the Christian men in my life. But this relationship took a turn too soon. He knew a lot about Scripture and had worked in youth ministry for 12 years. But, we hadn’t had time to develop a friendship so that he could see my fear of the Lord, my willingness to wait on the Lord for all decisions, and my desire to be obedient to Christ.
We hadn’t discussed the most important question in our lives, “What ministry has God called you to in order to help restore His kingdom here on Earth?”
Society teaches us to be fixated on our outward appearance, and once you become focused on that, it’s sometimes hard to look past it. I want you to see who I am in response to the will of my Lord. I want you to identify and nurture the Christ in me. Instead, you see my outward appearance and want to possess me, to have me for your own. Your possessiveness then becomes stifling; eventually you even want to keep me from my faith and my Lord.
I have good male friends who honor me by looking past my outward appearances, my “charm and beauty.” Over coffee or wine, they ask questions about my faith and my ministries, and help instruct me in Scripture and re-direct me when I get off target. They are faithful Christian men who know that inner beauty is more important that outward appearances; they nurture the inner being of my soul.
“So,” my date asked, “You wouldn’t consider dating anyone until you first form a friendship?”
“That’s right”, I replied. “Friends don’t keep looking at each other wondering where the relationship is going, trying to possess the other person, and inwardly hoping that they are beautiful or handsome enough to keep them forever. Friends don’t gaze into each other’s eyes, mesmerized by outward beauty. Instead, friends work shoulder to shoulder, respecting each other’s ministries and helping each other see the face of God. Rather than fixated on each other, they are arm in arm, fixated on God.”
Outward beauty is society’s drug, inward beauty is a Christian’s virtue. But it is impossible to see inner beauty when you get stuck on the superficial package.
I pray that in your dating relationships, you will reorder your loves, becoming friends first, and seeing the inner beauty in each other.