A few years ago, the women of my church ventured on a quest to try and better understand the opposite sex. We took an anonymous survey of the men in the congregation and asked one simple question: What can your woman do to show you she truly loves you?
We then spent several Bible study sessions looking at the guys’ answers. The goal was to consider their answers in the light of God’s Word—not to judge or validate them, but to seek God’s wisdom about our relationships so that we can make them (the relationships) better.
The answers were not surprising: more sex (for the married men), more respect, more trust of his decision-making, less talking, less bossiness.
While every answer was important and, biblically speaking, required our serious effort, one answer was especially significant:
“I want my wife to love God more than she loves me.”
Wow, now that is a truly God-fearing man! Indeed, whether we’re single or already married isn’t that the kind of man we Christian women want? If so, then shouldn’t we be the kind of woman that kind of man wants?
There are lots of ways to consider that question and lots of scriptures to turn to for guidance about it.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV)
So, what do these Scriptures have to do with loving God more than loving your man, present or future?
It has been said, “Nothing manifests the beauty and sufficiency of Christ more fully than a godly woman who has a sweet and gentle spirit.”
Our most attractive adorning is when it reflects our love for God and how much we acknowledge Him and desire to please Him. This includes how we try to appear and behave, and even what we spend our time on the most: serving our looks versus serving through good works.
These Scriptures are not forbidding the styling of our hair or the wearing of makeup, jewelry or fine clothing to compliment or enhance our looks. Rather, they are emphasizing that to be wholly beautiful is to give utmost attention to “the hidden man of the heart” than to the flesh. It is to be beautiful from the inside out, adorning ourselves with God’s graces of a meek and quiet spirit and modesty as first priority over those outward adornments.
You see, how we are on the outside reflects what’s on the inside. A woman with a meek and quiet spirit will also be modest in her outward appearance — how she talks, acts and wears her clothes — because she will not purposely draw undue attention to herself.
As Matthew Henry said, “a composed, calm and quiet spirit renders a woman truly beautiful and lovely.” A woman, who spends more time and energy on her spirit than on her body, is more pleasing to God… and to a godly man.
Think about it: what would most godly Christian men prefer in the long-term? A woman who’s fine to look at but hard to live with? Or a woman whose truest beauty emanates from the adornment she takes care to nurture on the inside?
A woman who puts a lot of effort into adorning her flesh to please men at the expense of adorning her spirit to please God, is hardly looked upon as deeply desirable to the truly God-fearing man.
This is not to say we shouldn’t pay any attention at all to our looks in order to please our husbands or attract a potential mate. Men are more sight-oriented than we are, and that is by God’s design, so it’s okay for a Godly woman to make herself physically appealing in order to gain or maintain his interest.
It’s good to remember, though, that our outward appearance sends out a message that will cause a corresponding response. A woman who goes beyond God’s boundaries in her outward appearance — how indiscreet she appears in dress or behavior — is more likely to be perceived as a woman who goes beyond God’s boundaries in other areas of her life, as well.
When a godly Christian woman looks in the mirror — whether literally every time she gets dressed or figuratively when she reflects on her character — she regularly asks herself, What type of man do I want to attract, or what type of husband would make me the most happy and secure: one who yearns more to get closer to my heart, or closer to my flesh?
We can't expect to draw a man to our heart if it’s our flesh we’re using the most to get his attention or to keep him interested for the long-term. Come to think of it, how can happiness last after the flesh starts to fade?
The goal is balance. Not balance in the sense of giving equal time to our looks as we give to our mind and heart. Rather, biblical balance in the sense of aligning our attitudes and desires to what the Lord says is most important, putting our Christian character as first priority and then letting that show in our outward appearance and behavior.
As you endeavor to strike that balance, a truly God-fearing man may still be attracted to your flesh but will be swept away by your “sweet and gentle” spirit. Even if you’ve been married to that man for years, she who endeavors to put God first and acknowledge Him in how she adorns her spirit as well as her body will be given His grace to receive the truest desires of her heart.