Does beauty crush you? Quite a few of those I talk to are devastated by it. They can’t find it, though they pursue it. They can’t satisfy it, though they serve it. It’s never enough. They can never live up to its expectations.
I want to share something with you that may come as a relief: you can’t get beauty by pursuing it directly. If we make “beauty” our goal, then we’ll never get it. It will always elude us. It will hide around the corner, waiting for us to come around. Then it will crush us, only to go hide again, around the next corner.
How do you get beauty then? Not by pursuing it.
You have to pursue something else, instead. Actually, you have to pursue Someone else. Then beauty will pursue you. Beauty will be given to you by this other Person.
There’s a sinful woman who invades the home of a religious person, named Simon. Her goal is to find Jesus, so that she can anoint his feet with perfume. Not only does she anoint his feet with perfume, but also she weeps on his feet and washes them with her tears, drying them with her hair. When the grumpy religious leader wonders about the actions of this sinful woman, Jesus tells a parable. Jesus tells the story of two men, one who was forgiven a relatively small debt and the other who was forgiven a large debt. Jesus asked Simon this question, “Now which of them will love him more?” The religious leader correctly responds, “The one, I suppose, that had the larger debt cancelled.”
Jesus agrees with Simon and then goes on to say how much the woman was doing for him (anointing his feet, washing and drying them), while Simon did nothing. His point is that the sinful woman was like the person who had the large debt cancelled and the religious leader was like the person who had the small debt cancelled. The one who had the larger debt cancelled, showed the most love.
And, Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing.”
Do you see? When she stopped pursuing beauty, beauty started pursuing her. She was truly beautiful, because she lost herself in the love of her Savior. The more attention she gave him, the more beautiful she became.
I know you might have your doubts, but just use a little logic. Think about the recent MTV Music Awards, where one musician performed a scandalous dance. (While I did not see any part of the show, it’s become quite infamous around the internet.) Honestly, do you think anyone will remember her “performance” five years from now? How about 50? I doubt it. Think of any lusty performance by todays supposed “beauties.” Will any of them be remembered 100 years from now? How about 2,000 years from now? Again, I seriously doubt it.
Now think about this sinful woman in Luke 7—the world is still enthralled by her performance. What she did to Jesus 2,000 years ago is as fresh as ever. Jesus even goes so far as saying that she will be talked about until the end of time. “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” And it’s true! Think of the billions and billions of Bibles around the world, which all contain four accounts each of her story! Not only will she be remembered throughout the entire world (let’s face it, she’s gotten more press than any of today’s celebrities), but also in perpetuity.
By not aiming for it, she managed to gain the deepest and most profound kind of beauty.
Again, in order to have beauty, you must not make it your goal, because beauty is not achieved in that way. So many today have made beauty their goal, in order to gain acceptance. Jesus turns everything on its head. Jesus gives acceptance first and then beauty follows. Once you know that you are loved by God, then you’ll truly find beauty.
One more thing about the woman and the religious leader. The woman loved more because she knew that she was forgiven more. The lesson is that the more you know how sinful you are (how much you need to be forgiven), the more you will love God. Like the religious leader, the less sinful we think we are, the less we will love God when he forgives us. So, first, in order to love God, we must know how sinful we are.
But there is a second thing we must know. It’s not enough just to know how sinful we are. Some of us are quite aware of how sinful we are. We know that our lives are in debt to God. We know that we’ve blown it, again and again. We cannot stop here, we need to go further into Jesus. It’s not enough to know how bad we are; we also need to know how good Jesus is. We need to know how much he has forgiven us. The woman knew her sin, yes, but she also knew that Jesus had forgiven her. She knew her forgiveness. That’s the second thing you must know.
Do you know your debt? Even more, do you know that your entire debt has been cancelled? Do you know your forgiveness? You are forgiven. Embrace that reality. If you trust in Jesus Christ to take away your debt, then he will! You are completely forgiven of all your past, present, and future sins. No debt remains. Only when we feel the force of this reality can we begin to have joy and peace. “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
We’ll never get beauty if we try to pursue it directly. True beauty comes when we lose ourselves in loving the only One who can wash away our sins and make us beautiful.
© Samuel Kee, 2013
 Her story is told in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.