Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a manicure in forever and a day, but this excerpt from Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale strikes me as just perfect. While Mabel’s target audience is young girls maturing into womanhood, the wisdom here extends to women of all ages. It also calls to mind the relationship between doctrine and good works. We know that salvation is monergistic, and that no man can muster up what the Spirit alone has power to do. But it is equally true that good deeds have a place in our salvation. Paul told Titus, “I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (Titus 3:8). We don’t do good works to be saved, we do good works because we are saved. Good deeds are not the basis of our salvation but they are evidence, and God expects them from us. So, what makes a girl or woman beautiful? Yes, there is something to be said for a pretty face, or well manicured hands! But, there is also something infinitely more important than that! Listen:
“In the cloakroom of a certain school, a question arose among some girls as to who had the most beautiful hands. The teacher listened to her girls thoughtfully. They compared hands and explained secrets of keeping them pretty. Nettie said that a girl could not keep perfect hands — and wash dishes or sweep. Maude spoke of the evil effects of cold and wind, and too much sunshine. Stella told of her favorite cold cream. Ethel spoke of proper manicuring. At last the teacher spoke.
“To my mind Jennie Higgins has the most beautiful hands of any girl in school,” she said quietly.
“Jennie Higgins!” exclaimed Nettie in amazement; “why, her hands are rough and red and look as if she took no care of them. I never thought of them as being beautiful.”
“I have seen those hands carrying food to the sick, and soothing the brow of the aged. She is her widowed mother’s main help, and she it is who does the milking and carries the wood and water, yes, and washes dishes night and morning, that her mother may be saved the hard work. I have never known her to be too tired to speak kindly to her little sister, and help her in her play. I have found those busy hands helping her brother with his kite. I tell you I think they are the most beautiful hands I have ever seen, for they are always busy helping somewhere!”
This is the beauty for which every girl should strive — the beauty that comes from unselfishness and usefulness. Beauty of face and form is secondary in importance, though not to be despised. If used properly, personal beauty is a good gift; but if it turns a girl’s head — then it becomes a curse to her!
Think of such women as are much spoken of through the public press, or who have achieved noble deeds, as Frances Willard, Florence Nightingale, or Edith Cavel — and consider whether you ever heard if they were pretty or not. No one ever thinks of such trifles when speaking of those who are great of soul.
The girl who depends on her pretty face or form for attraction, is to be most pitied! Those articles in magazines that so exalt the idea of outer beauty, are pandering to the baser part of nature. One may be perfectly beautiful so far as that kind of beauty goes — and lack that true beauty which is like a royal diadem upon the head. Those who give much time to increasing their personal charms are living on a lower level, than is altogether befitting to womanhood. A beautiful soul shining out of a homely face — is far more attractive than a beautiful face out of which looks a soul full of selfishness and pride!
My little friend, do not be careless of the good looks that God has given to you, take care in dressing yourself and attending to personal neatness, that you may ever appear at your best; untidiness and carelessness hide the beauty of kind deeds — but greatness of soul and nobility of heart, hide homeliness of face. You cannot see the one for the other. Seek goodness and purity first, then strive to keep the body in harmony with the beauty of the heart. Take time to make yourself presentable — but do not use the time before your looking-glass that should be given to loving service. Let your chief charm be of heart and mind — not of face and form. Seek the true beauty which lasts even into old age!
Solomon, in one of his wise sayings, expressed plainly the evil that comes to a woman who is beautiful of face but lacks the true beauty of soul: “Like a gold ring in a swine’s snout — is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion!” Proverbs 11:22. As the swine would plunge the golden jewel into the filth and the mire as he dug in the dirt — so will a pretty woman who is not godly drag her beauty down to the very lowest.
There are many peculiar temptations to those who are only lovely of face. Without true beauty of soul — a pretty face is a dangerous gift!”
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the LORD shall be praised!” Proverbs 31:30