Friday, July 7, 2017

Gold Rings and Hogs

Back when I was single, long before the only female capable of registering in my brain was my wife (cough, cough), I had a rule about how I described women. Well,  really, it was more my own set of definitions. Any girl I happened to see could be pretty, even beautiful, or unattractive. But I refused to use stronger words to define a girl's appearance until I actually knew them. For instance, for a girl to be "gorgeous," she needed not only to be physically attractive but have an attractive spirit as well. One the flip-side a girl who was physically very attractive could be "downgraded" if she was petty, stuck-up, or mean-spirited. In fact, there was a girl in high school who was extremely attractive physically that I refused to think of as "beautiful" because she was snobby and conceited (in my ill-practiced high-school opinion). I have never heard whether girls have a similar system for rating guys (my wife tells me that I am the only attractive male on the planet besides that one superhero on TV…cough, cough), but I would suspect they do.

The author of Proverbs seemed to have a similar system as well. Proverbs 10:22 reads, "A beautiful woman who rejects good sense is like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (HCSB). Apparently, the author of the proverb, like many of us, drew the distinction between a woman who was physically attractive and a woman whose only positive quality was her physical appearance. The movie from the late '90s Shallow Hal demonstrates that even the world at large operates under a similar concept.

Now, while it might be a good idea for me to bring this up in order to warn single people, "Make sure you are looking for someone whose attractiveness goes beyond the physical," and while that would be a good warning, I think most of us eventually arrive at those conclusions on our own. Rather, I am more concerned with how we make ourselves attractive. And, yes, if you are married, you still need to be concerned about being attractive, both to your spouse and to a world that is watching you to see whether or not coming to Christ is worth their time.

Sometimes, we get so worried about our physical appearance, that we forget to work just as much on our attitude and behavior.  We often fall into the trap of making sure that we are dressed well (say, for church) but don't stop to think about how we greet people we have never met or whether we are hospitable to strangers. We fuss over our hair (I don't want to but my wife makes me) but we never fuss over how we respond to other people's ideas and desires. Sometimes, we don't spend any time at all worrying about any appearances other than the physical.

Just like there are some people who are naturally attractive and don't have to do a lot of work on their physical appearance, some people don't have to think much about how they appear to other people. At least for a time. But eventually, we all have to work on our physical appearance and, eventually, we all have to work on the other aspects of our attractiveness. Time and stress and worry and simply living in a sinful world eventually push us all to the point where we have to be intentional about how we appear to others. Both physically and in other ways, we can let things slide until we are forced to work on them.

Before  we let it get that far, let's try to focus on being attractive beyond the physical. Let's be more than a gold ring in a pig's snout.

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