Value the Valuable, Not the Vain (Proverbs 31:30)
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. —Proverbs 31:30
Proverbs 31 is about a noble wife, a woman who is defined by her godly character. Her hard work, her wisdom, and her character are exceptional. For men, these verses are often used to direct who to date and potentially marry. “Find a Proverbs 31 wife!” is a common refrain!
As women, we often read these verses as aspirational—verses to guide our choices and a woman we want to emulate. And when we get to verse 30, “charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” what do you think? Do you think about how our culture worships beauty? Do you think about charm? Do you think about yourself? Is this a verse that brings you comfort: it doesn’t matter how I look, I fear the Lord?
Male or female, these reflections aren’t wrong, but I think they’re incomplete. It’s not just about looking for a wife or being an admirable woman, it’s about how in our culture, and yes, in the church, we can be easily deceived by charm and blinded by beauty.
We’re so easily distracted by beauty, aren’t we? A beautiful person enters, and wow do we want to know that person. Being around a beautiful person is great, maybe we feel prettier just being around them, maybe we get good make-up tips. (I’m always in need of make-up help!)
There is nothing inherently wrong with this; being beautiful isn’t a sin. Chatting about fashion tips isn’t wrong. But when we value these things, when they are what we prize in someone else, when it is what we prize in ourselves, it is wrong. So no, don’t avoid beautiful people; don’t feel ashamed if you are beautiful, but don’t value beauty most of all. When we discount people who are unfashionable or unattractive, we are wrong. We are vain.
Charming people are so fun to be around. They make witty jokes, they have the best compliments, they are polite and well-mannered and wonderful conversationalists. Enjoy your charming friends! Be charming yourself! But don’t be deceived by it. Don’t excuse sin from someone who is charming. Be wise. Don’t use your own charm to deceive someone, to manipulate them to your desires. Don’t value your charming friends over the awkward person, the one who never quite socially fits in. Believing that charming people are better, more valuable than others—that is a lie.
Are the women in your life women who encourage you to live more for Jesus? What about you, are you someone whose defining trait is that you fear the Lord? Do you spend all of your time chatting about wellness tips, fashion, and the best workout? Do you avoid awkward people?
May the thing that you value most about yourself be Jesus. May you point everyone around you to the Creator of the universe. May your love for His people—regardless of their beauty, or charm, or any vain thing—be your defining characteristic, the thing worth valuing, godly character as a result of His work in your life.
What do you value most about yourself? What do other people value most about you?
Have you ever been deceived by charm or a charming person? Have you ever manipulated someone with charm?
What do you value in people? Do you value beauty and charm too much? Do you undervalue godliness?
Ask God if there is someone in your life that you should step towards? Is there someone you’ve discounted because they are awkward or unattractive? What can you do to value that person this week?
How can you take time to celebrate what God has done in your life? How can you value the good works He has done in you? Take time this week to reflect on how far God has brought you and rejoice that He is continuing to refine and shape you.