One of my favorite places is the botanical gardens at our local university.
On my last visit a few days ago, the garden was bursting with color and scent. Masses of peonies bloomed in magenta and cotton candy pink, tiger lilies flamed red, purple spikes of delphinium towered tall, and the fragrance of rose and mock orange sweetened the air.
Every flower was a work of art, and every work of art tells us something about the artist.
And I think, based on His creation, it’s clear that God cares about beauty.
Unfortunately, giving attention to beauty—whether through landscaping, designing a home, or paying attention to one’s personal appearance—is often deemed frivolous.
But if we read the Bible (and look out the window!), we find that beauty matters to God.
- In Revelation, John describes the New Jerusalem as a place of immense beauty, covered in jewels:
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. Rev. 21:18 NIV
- In the Old Testament, Solomon’s temple, the instructions for which came “from the hand of the Lord” (1 Chron. 28 NLT), was constructed from exotic wood, lavishly covered in gold and precious stones, and adorned with ornate designs (2 Chron. 3-5).
Other verses speak of God’s appreciation of beauty and His desire to beautify us:
- You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3 NASB
- To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3 TLB
- Honor and majesty surround him; strength and beauty fill his sanctuary. Psalm 96:6 NLT
Even Jesus addressed beauty when He said,
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30 NIV
I don’t believe Jesus is saying clothing or beauty doesn’t matter. Rather, He’s emphasizing that we shouldn’t worry about them. What He says is really a statement of reassurance and validation: I know you need clothing and want to be dressed beautifully! Trust me. Just look how I clothe the flowers! I care about beauty, and I’ll dress you beautifully as well.
So what does this mean on a practical, every day basis?
I think it means not denying or being ashamed of our desire for beauty. God created beauty and He’s the one that put the desire for it within us. We honor Him by paying attention to what matters to Him.
It also means partnering with God in creating a beautiful, welcoming environment for the benefit of others (as well as our own enjoyment) and His glory. We can do this with simple gestures, such as putting a bouquet on the dining table.
Of course we shouldn’t be overly concerned with outward appearances, but a desire to wear earrings, paint our nails, decorate our homes, or plant flowers in the garden is not wrong or superfluous. In fact, beauty is essential. Without it, the world would be a dull place!
Do you believe beauty matters? How do you incorporate beauty into your everyday life? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
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