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A Beauty That Is Not Vain!

Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

A small boy made his way to the ladies section of a large department store to buy a Mother's Day gift.

"I want to buy my mom a blouse," he told the clerk.
But when it came to giving the information as to size, he was something at a loss.

"It would help," the clerk suggested,
"if you could tell me if your mother is tall or short, fat or slim."

"Oh," said the boy, "She's just perfect!"

So the clerk wrapped up a size 34 for him.

On Monday after Mother's Day, his mother came in to exchange it for a size 52.

We have, not only a smile, but a clue to an important fact.
There is a beauty which is independent of physical size or appearance.
Our Scripture says that "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain."

Proverbs is a distinctly masculine book, and it sounds like the voice of bitter experience!
But it recognizes that physical, external beauty, is not the only kind of beauty.
"A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

There is a beauty of personality as well as of face, and a grace of character as well as of carriage.

The reason, of course, is that a pretty face cannot conceal for long an empty head or a hard heart.
Even someone who is not really attractive can radiate with a beautiful spirit.

Few of us remember, much if anything, of our mothers when they were in the fresh bloom of youth,
but who -- given even nominal love and care by her -- ever thought his own mother was unattractive.

There is a beauty which is not vain,
and for this Mother's Day, we would be a healthier and holier and happier people if more of this inner beauty
appeared in all of us. Such beauty includes a feeling of wholeness.

Beauty that is incomplete or immature is not beauty; it leaves something to be desired.
We cannot have a full measure of inner beauty while we are denied a sense of wholeness.
Neither can we have it if we do not seek wholeness. Not only incompleteness but imperfection is the enemy of wholeness.
A flaw in the part destroys the beauty of the whole.

When John Wesley tried to describe the beauty or perfection of the Christian life, he always noted its wholeness:
"Loving God with all our heart." "A heart and life all devoted to God."
Wesley declared that loving God and being completely devoted to God regained the whole image of God.

One of the best definitions of Christian love that I have ever found has this same emphasis:
"To will the well being of the whole being of every being." Wholeness without balance is awkwardness.
A person without poise is like a symphony orchestra out of tune -- harsh and discordant.

We have a picture of just such a woman in the New Testament. (Luke 10: 38-42)
Her name was Martha.
Jesus saw that her greatest need was not for someone to help in the kitchen, but for an inner harmony.
"Martha, Martha," Jesus said gently, "You are anxious and troubled about many things."
She was wrought up, distracted -- she lacked harmony.

As Anne Morrow Lindbergh puts it, she needed, "The stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body
so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still

The harmony that we need comes in just one way.
It comes from obedience to Him whose purpose it is to bring harmony into all creation, or as the Bible puts it,
"To reconcile the world unto himself."

The beauty that is not vain is radiant.
It has glow and vitality.
It sparkles with light and life.

A little girl was scheduled to recite a part for an old-fashioned children's day Sunday school program.
She had gone over it and over it, but when she stood up before all the people,
her mouth went dry, her mind went blank, and she trembled on the edge of panic.

In the front row the mother was almost as agonized as the child.
The mother tried to calm her with a gesture.
She formed the opening words of the speech silently with her lips.
But nothing helped.

Finally, she whispered, "I am the light of the world."

Immediately, the girl's tension eased, and she confidently began, "My mother is the light of the world."

Well, it wasn't Scripture.
But it wasn't blasphemy either!

Jesus, not only said of Himself that He was the light of the world, but also that His disciples were. (John 8: 1; Matthew 5: 14)

And where have most of us seen more of the radiant Christian spirit than in some modern disciple, perhaps our own mother?
Do you not remember men and women who had a radiance that was infectious?

It seems to me that radiance is something of the very beauty of the Lord our God within us!
So wholeness, harmony, and radiance abide, these three, in beauty.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
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