Sarah was a Beautiful Woman|
Our culture is obsessed with physical beauty in women. It seems that nothing is more important for a woman in our society than the appearance of her face, the complexion of her skin, the shape and size of her body, the style of her hair, the fashion of her clothing, the sparkle of her jewelry, and even the thickness of her eyelashes. Such beauty has become a force in marketing, for many women are so obsessed with becoming beautiful that they will buy almost anything that promises to improve their appearance. Likewise, many men are so concerned with attracting beautiful women that they will buy almost anything that promises to improve their chances. Indeed, the pursuit of beauty has become an obsession in our culture, and women who are considered to be beautiful are very highly esteemed.
If any woman from the Bible’s records would be admired in our culture today, surely it would be Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Even with all of the world-famous models who are known for nothing else but their physical appearance, it is unlikely that any of them would surpass the physical beauty of Sarah. Sarah (Sarai) was so beautiful that when she was at least sixty-five years old (Abraham was at least seventy-five years old and Sarah was ten years younger – see Gen. 12:4; 17:17), the king of Egypt was astounded by her beautiful appearance and wanted her for his wife (Gen. 12:11-15). Abraham (Abram) anticipated that this would happen, and he told her to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister so that they would not kill him to get her. This situation repeated itself with the king of Gerar when Sarah was at the advanced age of eighty-nine years (Gen. 20:1-2; see Gen. 17:1 for an age reference). It is difficult to imagine any woman living today who is still so physically beautiful at the ages of sixty-five or eighty-nine that the most powerful man in the land would seek her for his wife. Yet Sarah was so beautiful that age did not diminish her appearance.
While many women would admire the rare and exceptional physical beauty of Sarah, the New Testament advises Christian women to admire her for different reasons. Sarah is not remembered because of her beautiful appearance, but rather she is remembered as a godly woman. She is an example of faith for both men and women, for she received the ability to conceive a child and give birth at the age of ninety years because she believed in God’s promise (Heb. 11:11). Specifically for women, she is held up as an example of godly adornment. Notice 1Peter 3:3-6:
Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
The true beauty of Sarah was in her godly character and spiritual adornment. Women who would become daughters of Sarah must pattern themselves after her by submitting to their own husbands and doing what is right. They must fearlessly conform to God’s will for women without being afraid of worldly consequences.
In the person of Sarah, there are lessons regarding beauty for both men and women. Men must learn to esteem women as God does. God considers a gentle and quiet spirit to be precious, and godly men should do the same. Christian men must see that this godly quality in women is imperishable, meaning that it will not fade away with age as physical beauty often does. Godly men will heed the Scriptures’ warning regarding ungodly women who are beautiful, such as Proverbs 6:25 ("Do not desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her capture you with her eyelids”) and Proverbs 11:22 ("As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion”). Likewise, women must learn these same lessons by adorning themselves in characteristics that are befitting for women making a claim to godliness (1Tim. 2:9-10). Let all wives imitate the example of the excellent wife in Proverbs 31 and heed the words of verse 30 – "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Her praise will come from her husband and her children (Prov. 31:29), but most importantly it will come from her God.
Certainly, physical beauty has its value, but it does not approach the value of the imperishable qualities of godliness. May all Christian men and women keep these values in the proper perspective and proportion. While physical beauty is admired by all who can see, Christians must have the spiritual depth of understanding to look beyond outward appearances as God does, "for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1Sam. 16:7). Sarah was a beautiful woman, but God remembers her as a holy woman who hoped in God and adorned herself with a meek and quiet spirit. Let us value one another by this same godly standard.
Stacey E. Durham
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