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The Unfading Beauty of a Godly Woman (Proverbs 710-12 and 1 Peter 31-4)

The Unfading Beauty of a Godly Woman (Proverbs 7:10-12 and 1 Peter 3:1-4)

First Peter 3 explains how a woman can have unfading beauty. The godly woman in 1 Peter 3 can be contrasted with the ungodly woman in Proverbs 7 who lures the foolish young man.

Your Marriage God's Way by Scott LaPierre
Your Marriage God's Way Workbook by Scott LaPierre

Much of the text in this post is found in Your Marriage God’s Way, which also has an accompanying audiobook. I am praying God uses the book and workbook to strengthen marriages and exalt Christ.

What makes a woman beautiful? The harlot in Proverbs 7 tried different ways to make herself beautiful, or attractive, to the young man:

  • Verse 10 says she “dressed as a prostitute”
  • Verse 13 shows she was incredibly aggressive: “She seizes him and kisses him”
  • Verse 17 says she used “[perfume], myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon”
  • Verse 21 says she used “seductive speech”

Are these the things that make a woman beautiful? Or is it something physical, such as her hair or face? Or something mental, such as her intelligence or education? Or something emotional, such as her personality or friendliness?

The Bible acknowledges physically beautiful women. For example: Sarah in Genesis 12:14, Rebekah in Genesis 24:16, Rachel in Genesis 29:17, Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:3. But the weakness of this beauty is it fades with time. But 1 Peter 3:1-4 describes an unfading beauty:

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be externalthe braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the IMPERISHABLE (or unfading) BEAUTY of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

The godly woman described in these verses can be contrasted with the harlot in Proverbs 7.

A Godly Woman Has a Gentle and Quiet Spirit Versus Being Loud

Proverbs 7:10 And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. 11a She is loud

What did it say about the woman in 1 Peter 3? She has a:

1 Peter 3:4 gentle and QUIET SPIRIT

It’s important to notice it says, “gentle and quiet spirit” versus “gentle and quiet mouth.” In other words, this isn’t telling women they can never talk. Women can be friendly, social, extroverted, and have quiet spirits. Conversely, women can be introverted, talk little, and NOT have quiet spirits. Consider the description of the virtuous wife in Proverbs 31:26:

Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She is applauded for speaking. If Peter is not discouraging women from speaking, what is he discouraging? The Greek word translated “gentle” is prays, which means “mildness of disposition.” It describes how a woman should handle herself and respond to situations in life. She should be calm and in control. She should not be easily wrought or stirred up. Consider how it’s worded in the Amplified: “a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature].” The word appears only two other places in Scripture:

  • Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek [prays], for they shall inherit the earth.
  • Matthew 21:5 Behold, your king is coming to you, humble [prays], and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.

Looking at the three uses of prays, we see it is used to describe those who will inherit the earth, Jesus’s disposition, and a godly woman’s true beauty.

A Godly Woman Is Submissive Versus Rebellious

Proverbs 7:11b and wayward;

This is the Hebrew word sārar, which means “rebellious,” which is how it’s translated in the NKJV, NASB, and Amplified. The godly wife in 1 Peter 3 is described as submissive:

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

Wives aren’t expected to submit to other men, to abuse, or to sin. But they are expected to submit to their husbands even if they are unsaved. The phrase “do not obey the word” is Peter’s way of describing unbelievers. For example:

  • In 1 Peter 1:2, he says that believers show “obedience to Jesus Christ.” He equates salvation with obedience, and rightly so: believers should be obedient!
  • In 1 Peter 2:8, he says that unbelievers “disobey the word.”

John MacArthur wrote, “Since obedience has been used in [1 Peter] to refer to believers and disobedience to non-believers, this is a non-Christian husband.” Sometimes, people say, “Is a godly woman expected to submit to a spiritually immature husband?” According to 1 Peter 3, a godly woman must submit to even an unbelieving husband. But the Proverbs 7 acts toward her husband:

Proverbs 7:19 For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey;

Then she lures the young man to her house. So, the godly woman submits to her husband, and the harlot commits adultery.

A Godly Woman Manages Her Home Versus Neglects It

Proverbs 7:11c her feet do not stay at home; 12 now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.

She seems to be everywhere except for the one place she’s supposed to be: her home. She prowls around these different locations: the street, the market, every corner. She’s the creepiest woman in scripture.

There isn’t a parallel for this in 1 Peter 3:1, but:

  • Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house”
  • Proverbs 31:27 says the virtuous woman “looks well to the ways of her household”
  • 1 Timothy 5:14 says women “should manage the households”
  • Titus 2:5 says women should “be working at home”

Our world minimizes the value of women caring for their home, but because Scripture emphasizes it, we can tell it’s important to God. Keeping this in mind helps us appreciate the value of homemaking because value is determined by God. Even if the world despises homemaking, if it’s important to God, it should be important to us.

But this isn’t to say women can ONLY care for their homes, family, and children. While these are a woman’s primary responsibilities, they don’t have to be her only responsibilities. Regarding the Proverbs 31 woman, we read:

Proverbs 31:16 she considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

The Proverbs 31 woman is industrious. She buys a field and then reinvests the profits to make more money. This is important because it shows that women can engage in work that provides income for their families. The balance is that she doesn’t neglect to care for her home or family.

A Godly Woman Dresses Modestly

Now let’s revisit verse 10, which I skipped earlier:

Proverbs 7:10 And behold, the woman meets him, DRESSED AS A PROSTITUTE, wily of heart.

The godly woman described in 1 Peter 3 is modest, but this woman is “dressed as a prostitute.” Women who dress immodestly fall into two groups: ignorant and knowledgeable. Let’s discuss each.

Some ladies are ignorant, and I mean this in a nice, biblical way. They don’t know better. Nobody has taught them differently. Their dad, mom, or both are not in the picture. They have no idea what effect the way they dress has on men.

These ladies don’t need to be rebuked. They need to be educated. They need a loving older woman to come alongside them and talk to them about modesty.

But some ladies are knowledgeable. They know better. They have been taught differently. Their dad or mom or both are in the picture. They know the effect that the way they dress has on men. That’s WHY they dress the way they do. They are like the harlot in Proverbs 7: they want to lure or entice young men.

Women should ask themselves these questions:

  • Why am I dressing this way?
  • What does my clothing say about my relationship with Christ?
  • Am I helping brothers in Christ stay pure or tempting them to lust?

A woman might dress immodestly because she is insecure, desperate for attention, or does not respect herself. But regardless of the reason, her immodesty makes her a walking temptation for her brothers in Christ.

Ladies should consider the more modestly you dress, the more attractive you will be to your husband or future husband because more is reserved for him alone. Conversely, the more immodestly you dress, the more you make yourself visually available to other men, and the less you reserve for your husband or future husband.

Are Men or Women at Fault?

Let’s make sure we understand the balance between men lusting and women dressing modestly.

One extreme is that it is all on the woman. She shouldn’t have been dressing that way. If she dressed differently, her brother in Christ wouldn’t have been stumbled. Ladies in this situation are made to feel like it is their fault every time a young man lusts. But this simply isn’t true because a young woman could dress modestly, and a young man could still lust.

The other extreme is it is all on the man. He should have ripped his eyes away and controlled his thoughts. It doesn’t matter how the woman dresses. It is all his fault.

So, the balance is both men and women share responsibilities. Yes, young men should rip their eyes away and control their thoughts. And women should make it easier for men to avoid lusting by dressing modestly.

A Selfish Attitude

Years ago, we encountered a family who believed it was all on the men. It didn’t matter how women dressed. If a man lusted, it was all his fault. This is a selfish attitude that shows no regard for others. Let me share a few verses that argue against this view:

1 Corinthians 8:13 If food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
Romans 14:13 Let us…decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother…21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Paul was talking about food, which is amoral. Not moral or immoral. He knew he could eat what he wanted, but he said he would still avoid food that would cause others to stumble.

My point is NOT that clothing is amoral. It’s not. Some clothing is moral, and some is immoral. My point is if Paul was this concerned about stumbling someone over something amoral, such as food, how much MORE concerned should we be about stumbling people over something moral or immoral, such as clothing?

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

For a woman to say, “The way I dress doesn’t matter,” shows a complete disregard for the interests of others.

A Godly Woman Can Pursue External Beauty

The way a woman dresses is often a good indication of her spiritual health, because what shows up on the outside comes from the inside:

1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be externalthe braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear

The Greek word for “adorning” is kosmos, related to the English word cosmetic. Kosmos is an umbrella term encompassing everything related to physical appearance, such as clothing, makeup, and jewelry.

This verse doesn’t forbid outward adornment. Most translations, such as the NKJV, NASB, and Amplified, add the word “merely” so it reads, “Do not let your adornment be MERELY outward.” This means a woman’s beauty should not come from ONLY or merely her outward appearance.

As Christians, we should pay attention to our physical appearance because we are ambassadors of Christ. It is a bad testimony to be immodest, but it’s also a bad testimony to look sloppy or unkempt.

What About Jewelry and Nice Clothing?

Several verses in the Old Testament speak positively of outward adornment, specifically jewelry and nice clothing:

Proverbs 25:12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

Gold jewelry is compared to the way an obedient ear accepts instruction. If outward adornment, such as earrings, were immoral, Scripture would not compare them to something positive.

The beautiful bride in Song of Solomon is complimented on her jewelry:

Song of Solomon 1:10 Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. [The] Others [say] 11 We will make for you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.

If jewelry were wrong, Solomon’s bride wouldn’t be complimented on hers.

The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 was not praised for her outward simplicity or plainness. Instead, she was praised for the way she adorned her family and herself:

Proverbs 31:21 All her household are clothed in scarlet. 22…her clothing is fine linen and purple.

In the ancient world, scarlet, fine linen, and purple were costly materials, which means the virtuous wife cared about her family’s appearance.

Isaiah 61:10 compares salvation and righteousness with fine clothing, ornaments, and jewelry:

Isaiah 61:10 God…has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

God wouldn’t compare salvation and righteousness with outward adornment if outward adornment was immoral.

An even stronger positive reference comes from God describing his chosen people, Israel, as a beautifully dressed bride:

Ezekiel 16:10 I clothed you…with embroidered cloth and…fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12 I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13b Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth.

God would not outwardly adorn his people as a gift if outward adornment was ungodly.

Having said this, we need to strike the right balance, which I believe Paul does with this verse:

1 Timothy 2:9 Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

Did you catch the balance? “Women SHOULD adorn themselves in respectable apparel,” but “with modesty and self-control.” Women should adorn themselves but not go overboard. Godly women can pursue external beauty, but they shouldn’t be consumed with their appearance.

Focusing too much on physical appearance reveals an unhealthy preoccupation, or worse, obsession with looks. A woman who wears excessive jewelry, makeup, or extravagant clothing can be as distracting as a woman who does not care for her appearance.

Unfading Beauty Should Be Pursued More than External Beauty

Women must be more focused on the internal than the external:

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Women should pay attention to their outward appearance, but they should pay even MORE attention to their inward appearance. God is more concerned with a woman’s heart than her face, hair, makeup, or clothing.

The Greek word for imperishable is aphthartos, the same word used to describe our imperishable crowns in 1 Corinthians 9:25 and our immortal bodies in 1 Corinthians 15:52. The idea is that women can have an imperishable or unfading beauty, which is how it’s translated in the NIV and Amplified.

There is a ceiling for woman’s physical beauty. No matter how well women care for themselves and how much time they spend on their appearance, they are limited by factors beyond their control, such as genetics and aging. But Peter says every woman has the potential to develop unfading beauty, which can increase over time as she grows in her relationship with Christ.

Our World’s Obsession with Unfading Beauty

In 1997, there were 1.6 million cosmetic surgeries in the United States. In 2011, there were 4.8 million. In 2021, there were 8.1 million. In less than 25 years, there have been five times more cosmetic surgeries!

Listen to this quote from a 2010 CNN article that came out right after the Great Recession when you would think people only had money for essentials:

“What recession? Despite record unemployment, rising health care costs and sinking home values, Americans shelled out more than $10 billion on cosmetic surgeries and other procedures in 2010…Almost half of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, but millions are running off to the plastic surgeon…What does it mean that despite the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans spent more than $10 billion on cosmetic procedures last year?”

Jack Cafferty, “$10 billion spent on cosmetic procedures despite recession,” Cafferty File, March 10, 2010.

It means plenty of people pursue unfading beauty. One particularly excessive example took place with a celebrity named Heidi Montag. After ten plastic surgeries…IN ONE DAY she complained about the scars they left behind. She said, “Parts of my body definitely look worse than they did pre-surgery. This is not what I signed up for!…I wish I could jump into a time machine and take it all back. Instead, I’m always going to feel like Edward Scissorhands.” Even ten plastic surgeries did not give Ms. Montag the beauty she wanted, say nothing about unfading beauty that would last the rest of her life.

Unfading beauty can’t be found outwardly. Inward beauty is the only kind that never fades because it doesn’t come from physical appearance:

Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV) Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Physical beauty fades, but spiritual, or inward beauty, expressed by fearing God, is unfading:

Only in Christ can women find that rich beauty of soul, that gemming of the character, which shall make her lovely in her husband’s sight, when the bloom of youth is gone, when the brilliance has faded out of her eyes, and the roses have fled from her cheeks.

J.R. Miller, The Home Beautiful (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1912), 57.

Unfading beauty does not require makeup, jewelry, or accessories. But when a woman does NOT have unfading beauty, no amount of makeup, jewelry, or accessories can make her beautiful. She might look attractive at first, but when that physical beauty fades all that will be left will be the inward unattractiveness.

Even the World Appreciates Unfading Beauty

Think about secular media, such as books, commercials, or movies, with a man falling in love with a woman. How is the woman typically presented? Joyful, pleasant, and good-tempered. Not moody, unkind, or selfish. Why is that? Even the unbelieving world recognizes inward, unfading beauty makes women outwardly attractive, but inward unattractiveness makes women outwardly unattractive. Here’s a verse making this point:

Proverbs 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.

This means that just like a gold ring can’t make a pig beautiful, physical beauty can’t make an inwardly ugly woman beautiful.

Unfading Beauty Is “Precious to God”

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which IN GOD’S SIGHT IS VERY PRECIOUS.

This verse contains another incentive for women to pursue unfading beauty: it is precious in God’s sight. The word translated as “precious” is polyteles, which means “very costly, excellent, of surpassing value.” The word appears only two other times in Scripture. The first time is in Mark 14:3 when Jesus was anointed:

Mark 14:3 A woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment…very costly (polyteles), and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

The second time is in 1 Timothy 2:9, which has an important parallel with 1 Peter 3:4:

1 Timothy 2:9 Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly (polyteles) attire.

In 1 Timothy 2:9 polyteles refers to physical appearance, but in 1 Peter 3:4 it refers to unfading beauty. It’s as though God says: “Don’t pursue outward, fading beauty, because it is your inward beauty that is truly precious and valuable in my sight.” This should encourage women to keep two truths in mind:

  1. It is possible to be beautiful in man’s eyes and ugly in God’s eyes.
  2. It is possible to be plain or even unattractive in man’s eyes and very beautiful in God’s eyes.

1 Samuel 16:7 The Lord said to Samuel, “The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

To rephrase this verse specifically for women, we could say, “The Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearancearranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparelbut the Lord looks at the hidden person of the heart, with the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

What About Jesus’s Appearance?

A wonderful way for us to conclude our look at unfading beauty is by considering what Scripture says about our Savior’s appearance:

Isaiah 53:2 He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

By worldly standards, Jesus was humble in appearance.

The Hebrew word translated “comeliness” is hāḏār, and it means “splendor, majesty, honor, or glory.” Jesus had none! He veiled his beauty when he became a man. While few people would intentionally try to be unattractive, modern society has made physical beauty something to worship. We should keep in mind that Jesus was able to perfectly please his Father without it. Jesus wanted people drawn to him for other reasons than his looks, such as His humility, love, compassion, andmost importantlythe sacrifice he would make.

When we think of the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, how can we not think of Jesus?

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

When Peter wrote about the same event in Christ’s life, only a few verses before describing a woman’s gentle and quiet spirit, he similarly praised Jesus’s gentle and quiet spirit:

1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Christ’s gentle and quiet spirit compelled him to go to the cross. He depicted the greatest manifestation of unfading beauty that was very precious in God’s sight. His example encourages all believers to imitate him.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please let me know. I do my best to respond to each comment.

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