Vanity is an issue we all must address as followers of Christ, especially in our culture today. But before we can really assess properly whether we have an issue with vanity, we need to have a good definition of what vanity is. Here is the biblical definition according to www.biblestudytools.com:
Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements. The biblical usage describes vanity as having no ultimate meaning… Vanity is recognizing only the accomplishments or appearance of oneself without the humility to appreciate the merit of others, including God. If faith is allowed to focus on God, rather, true meaning and joy are to be found. Learn more from our list of Bible verses about vanity!
The world constantly bombards us, as women, with messages about our external appearance being of greatest importance – so that is going to be my primary focus in this post. We see commercials for cosmetics, hair dye, clothing, jewelry, toiletries, surgical procedures, gym memberships, exercise equipment, shape wear, and lingerie that all communicate the message that our physical attractiveness is a measure (or even THE measure) of our worth as women.
It can get a bit confusing, because we obviously do have to wear clothes, fix our hair, and try to look like respectable members of society. We don’t want to be sloppy, or careless with our appearance for work. We want to look nice to attract a decent man, or to appeal to our man. We want to be clean, well-groomed, and properly dressed. We want to take good care of our bodies. But the problem is that we can take things too far – to the point that we are actually sinning and may not even realize it.
Clothes, makeup, jewelry, and hairstyles aren’t the real issue. The issue God is most concerned with is our hearts and our attitudes. He wants to help us examine our priorities so He can set us free from toxic thinking that hurts us.
How can we tell if we struggle with vanity?
- Do I feel I must wear the most fashionable clothing or I am somehow “less than”?
- Do I feel ashamed, afraid, “naked,” or insecure to leave the house without makeup/nails done?
- Do I hate myself if I am not a specific size?
- Do I depend on people’s compliments and approval of my looks for a sense of wellbeing?
- Do I tend to spend inordinate amounts of time on grooming and getting ready in the morning?
- Do I choose clothing purposely that will cause men to pay attention to my figure and to notice my curves and figure?
- Am I willing to sacrifice significant amounts of time/money/energy to have a specific figure, face, hair, or beauty – even if my friends/family think it is unnecessary?
- Do I feel pressured by my man to look a certain way and do I fear that if I am not beautiful enough, he might leave?
- Do I compare myself a lot to how other women look and rate myself and them against some subconscious “perfect worldly standard”?
- Do I feel better about myself if I think I am the most beautiful woman at a gathering?
- Do I feel jealous and resentful if I think another woman in the room is more beautiful than I am?
- Do I try to get the attention of men by my appearance, my figure, or flirting, in order to be sure “I still have ”it’”?
- Am I willing to do anything to try to keep my man’s attention and attraction? Even if it involves a lot of money, dishonesty, addictions, or other sin?
- Do I have a food/exercise addiction (or anorexia/bulimia)? Or do I have an addiction to spending on my appearance that I can’t control?
- Is it impossible for me to feel confident in myself, my identity, and my femininity if I don’t look a certain way?
- Do I think I am unloveable or worthless if I don’t meet some specific measure of physical beauty?
- Do I overspend and break my budget in order to look as good as possible, even if it means that I can’t pay my bills and meet basic needs?
If we can answer yes to any of these questions above, we probably have an issue with vanity. Vanity or beauty can become our idols. This means that we try to find our worth, value, content, identity, purpose, and security in our looks, our appearance, and in externals rather than in Jesus. The problem is, these things are empty and fleeting. They are not eternal sources of worth. They are deceptive.
What is the difference between vanity and simply being a good steward of our bodies?
It’s not a sin, necessarily, to doll ourselves up for our men sometimes, or just for ourselves. It’s not wrong to dress nicely, although Scripture encourages us not to dress too extravagantly. It’s not wrong to fix our hair and make it look pretty. The real question is our motive. What is on the throne of our hearts? Is it Jesus alone, or is some other desire competing with being the most important thing to us?
Is my greatest goal to bring glory to myself or to the Lord?
What is the opposite of vanity?
The opposite of vanity is modesty. My favorite definition of modesty is:
Modesty is humility in clothing.
What does the Bible say about modesty?
- Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
- Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 1 Tim. 2:9-10
- Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet (or peaceful) spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Pet. 3:3-4
- For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16
The goal of modesty is to exalt the Lord in every area of my life.
If I choose to live modestly:
- I choose to take the spotlight off of myself – my face, my hair, my body, my clothes, and my jewelry.
- I no longer depend on expensive, extravagant attempts at outward beauty to feel like a beautiful woman. I don’t want anything to distract people from Christ.
- I don’t want to be a stumbling block to my brothers in Christ – or to my sisters – by the way I dress and present myself.
- I seek to look respectable and feminine in a way that causes people to focus on the Spirit of God radiating from my life.
- I can truly lay down the desire to be viewed as “the most beautiful woman” in the room or on the planet.
- I treat my body with respect and honor because I reverence my Lord, Jesus Christ and I want to honor Him more than anything.
- My goal is to be a godly steward of my body rather than flaunting my body or finding security in my looks.
- I want to point the attention toward Him and away from me.
- I find my worth, identity, purpose, value, and security in His love for me and what He did for me on the cross.
- I can be secure in my identity and value as a woman even if I don’t have on makeup, I am not in fancy clothes, and even if my hair is not fixed in a glamorous way.
- I am free from the snare of people pleasing and choose to please the Lord above all else.
- I don’t try to grab everyone’s attention for myself.
- I focus on Jesus and on sharing His love and truth with others and I want to see others find the abundant life of Christ.
- I don’t compare myself to other women.
- I seek to be beautiful in God’s eyes in my inner self more than seeking outer beauty.
- I seek to honor my man if there are certain things he appreciates me doing – like having a certain hair length (if possible), or dressing up sometimes, or taking good care of my body with healthy diet/exercise. But this is simply just to be a blessing to him, it is not because I look to his approval for my worth and identity.
- I know who I am in Christ and I cling to what He says about me.
- My eyes are fixed on the eternal rather than the temporary.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Prov. 31:30
As I live in modesty and yield my heart completely to the Lordship of Christ, I find my security, identity, purpose, and lovability in Jesus alone.
NOTE – Exactly how we choose to dress, how we do our hair, and whether we decide to wear makeup or not are issues that I believe fall under “personal convictions.” Romans 14 admonishes believers in Christ to keep our personal convictions private so that we do not create stumbling blocks for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. My concern is our hearts and that we would seek to honor the Lord above all else just because we love Him and want to please Him more than anything. <3
Has God given you wisdom in this area concerning motives that you would like to share? Or are you struggling and need more resources or prayer support? Please leave us a comment. <3
Being a Trophy Wife Is Not the Goal, Dear Sisters – by Radiant
I Want to Be Desired by Other Men, Too – Guest post
My Journey into Modesty by A Fellow Wife
SPIRITUAL HEALING IN CHRIST