“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” There is some truth to this as is evidenced by the different tastes people have in art, music, decor, fashion, etc. There is an element of personal preference here. However, “beauty” as a deeper concept must have a foundation that is more objective and not merely subjective desire. When we say that some things are beautiful and other things are not, we are, knowingly or not, invoking some standard that we believe these things can be measured against. Some things truly are beautiful beyond our personal preferences. It’s not about giving a scientific explanation or a dictionary definition. We know beauty is real, and we know it when we see it. Does this surprise us? Those who are created in God’s image are in a position to recognize the beauty that reflects our Creator.
Deeper levels of beauty are transcendent across time and culture. Sunrises, sunsets, cloud formations, ocean scenes, great mountains, deep canyons, waterfalls, flowers, trees and other items of nature are generally and universally seen as beautiful, even glorious. We are awed by the beauty of the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite, and Niagara Falls, and people come from all over the world to see these wonders of nature. We love to look upon the beautiful. When God created the Garden of Eden, we read, “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen 2:9). The Garden was beautiful.
God made beauty something to behold and to remind us of Him. This is one reason believers see the heavens as a manifestation of God’s glory and the work of His hands (Psa 8, 19). There is a power that we see in the truly beautiful that leaves us speechless and humbled. We don’t need to explain it to justify it as beautiful, for such beauty testifies for itself. God has made it this way. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psa 8:3-4)
Human beings also create beauty. For example, we generally recognize various forms of art and music as beautiful. However, beauty goes beyond the material things that are just pleasing to our eyes and ears. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is described as making coverings of fine linen and purple. Yet the beauty she creates is not just in clothing, for “she opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (v. 26). Tabitha was described as one who “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity” beyond the garments she made (Acts 9:36-43). These women are beautiful beyond what they do outwardly. Their good works and character are beautiful. Again, this shouldn’t surprise us. Peter wrote about women of God who had “chaste and respectful behavior,” whose adornment was not “merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses.” Rather, her beauty was the “hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 2:3-4). Of course, what God considers precious and what the world considers precious are often quite different.
Earlier in Scripture, God’s priests were to have holy garments “for glory and for beauty” made by those who were “endowed with the spirit of wisdom” (Exod 28:2). God defined how they were to be made, which says something about beauty coming from Him. The same was true for the tabernacle and its articles. God used those who were given a spirit of wisdom and craftsmanship to make items that were pleasant to look at and precious. There was a beauty to behold when it was done. The human ability to create beauty reflects the Creator Himself. We create beauty because we are made in the image of the God who creates beauty.
Beauty is more than physical appearance. It is a part of the abstract and non-material reality. It is found in wisdom and in actions. Kindness is beautiful. Love is beautiful. Unity is beautiful. Sacrifice is beautiful. Reconciliation is beautiful. Caring is beautiful. The ability to think and comprehend is beautiful. The list can go on, and these are all reasons to reflect upon the Creator.
What we choose to think about says something about our own conception of beauty. For humanity, reflecting on God, His thoughts, and His grace and mercy are indeed the most beautiful of thoughts. Don’t let a culture that is degraded by sin determine beauty. Beauty is much greater and deeper than we may even imagine, for it is rooted in the Creator, whose glory and beauty is beyond our ability to express. As the hymn says,
“You are beautiful beyond description…”