Let’s talk about a gentle and quiet spirit.
I can’t really remember a time in my life when I was called “quiet.” Nor have I really been deemed “gentle.” Adjectives like “talkative,” “outgoing,” “independent,” and “ambitious” more typically fit the bill. To this day, I can vividly recall the moment in my freshman high school classroom in which I leaned over in my desk to talk to a friend in the row next to me. My desk promptly fell over, with me still in it, much to my teacher’s and my own dismay.
So you can imagine why in all the years I’d heard the phrase “gentle and quiet spirit,” I simply brushed it aside.
I’ve been slowing reading through 1 Peter the past few weeks, and In 1 Peter 3, the apostle Peter talks about the inward characteristics that make a woman beautiful. Rather than focusing on the physical and the external, Peter emphasizes how much God cares about the heart. In fact, he names one quality in particular:
I like looking at how other versions of the Bible translate this same passage:
“... You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within…” (NLT)
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (NKJV)
“... Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…” (NIV)
Real beauty isn’t defined by a great haircut, jewelry, or clothes. Real beauty is what’s inside the heart—the incorruptible gentle and quiet spirit.
Here's where I think we get tripped up. Peter isn’t saying women cannot wear jewelry. He isn’t saying women cannot be perceived as physically pretty. What he’s saying is that your beauty cannot rule you. Our physical attributes fade away. They die with our bodies on this earth.
God is after the internal.
Godly womanhood is imperishable. It’s the kind of beauty that lasts a lot longer than any waterproof mascara.
But, How on earth can I measure up to this gentle, quiet woman? That’s not me. I’m the chatty one, the one who got in trouble for talking too much at school.
You might be saying the same thing. Or maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as having a gentle and quiet spirit because you’re a driven career woman, you speak your mind, and you love talking to other people.
Peter’s description absolutely can be us, extrovert or not.
If we think of the woman Peter describes as simply one who is introverted, soft-spoken, and not ambitious, then we totally miss the point. Peter isn’t saying you cannot have goals or that you must refrain from speaking up. Quietness doesn’t refer to being completely silent.
Gentleness and quietness are qualities you can practice and grow into. They’re traits I’m learning to appreciate more as I get older. Gentleness and quietness are strengths. They’re characteristics of a strong woman of the Lord. Jesus was described as gentle. And gentleness is a fruit of the spirit.
Recently God’s been showing me why gentleness and quietness are beautiful—and how I can actually be that while still being chatty and outgoing.
At the core, these characteristics are defined by reliance on God.
A quiet soul trusts the Lord. A quiet soul gives control to God and knows His ways are best. A quiet soul is not anxious or worried. A quiet soul is content in Christ alone. A quiet soul submits to the Father.
If you look back a few verses in 1 Peter 3, you’ll see how Peter describes the beauty of submission: submitting to your husband and ultimately submitting to the Lord.
That is the quietness that makes us beautiful.
I can easily fixate on outward beauty. I enjoy fashion and makeup. I like physical activity and eating well. I know God wants us to steward our bodies responsibly and in a way that honors Him. But we’re not to honor our physical bodies more than Christ. When clean eating, exercise routines, meal planning, and my shopping budget get bigger than God, it’s a problem. When my hair, makeup, clothing, shoes, and the definition of my ab muscles take up more brain space than Christ, I have a major issue.
Where is my heart in all of this?
When I’m concerned with all those above things—or even only one or two of them—I’m a woman striving, competing, and placing hope in my physical body. That doesn’t sound like a gentle and quiet spirit at all. That sounds like a woman who’s stressed out and worried way too much about the temporal. God doesn’t see that as beautiful.
Beauty is a woman whose heart loves, trusts, and finds full satisfaction in the Lord.
What if we lived in a world where Instagram likes were determined solely by a person’s heart? Where holiness outweighed physical beauty every single time?
I think we can start to create that kind of world. But we have to encourage one another. We have to keep returning to God’s Word to know the truth when we’re bombarded with everything but. The culture we live in doesn’t want to equate beauty with a gentle and quiet spirit. You can’t sell a gentle and quiet spirit.
Framing beauty in the way Peter describes is so much better. There’s something incredibly freeing about it. We don't have to get stuck on the merry-go-round of culture's ever-changing beauty ideals. God's definition of beauty isn't changing. It's from the heart.
We can pray for a heart that matches the Lord's. A heart that rests in Him. A woman fully at peace because her hope is in her King. There's nothing more beautiful than that.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.