I looked in the mirror with concern and disappointment one last time before leaving home — one; because of breakouts and the other reason being my insecurity about how I looked and Oh without makeup. Today The Holy Spirit reminded me that “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” but a few minutes before that, I thought about where I would be seen in public over the next couple of days, and I must confess I considered staying at home — breakouts ( for those close to me and are observant you might have noticed some tiny yellowish looking breakouts on my face). Typically I’d hide behind a pair of glasses to improve my appearance! (well that’s a story for another day).
Thankfully, I didn’t skip church ( this happened four months ago). Well our generation places great emphasis on looks, which isn’t anything new. When King Ahasuerus was looking for a new wife in ancient Persia, outward beauty was the first requirement. Before being considered by the king, a young woman aside being a virgin, completed “Beauty Camp” — a yearlong period of beauty treatments with oil, myrrh, perfumes and cosmetics. Young Esther’s outward beauty helped her gain the favor of the king, but I think Esther had a lot more going for her than smooth skin and sweetly scented hair.
“Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.” (Esther 2:12)
The Bible says during the yearlong preparation, Esther gained favor from Hegai, the custodian of all the candidates for queen. Hegai gave Esther extra beauty preparations in comparison to the others, provided seven choice maidservants from the king’s palace and moved her to the nicest part of the house (Esther 2:9). I imagine all the women chosen for this royal harem were attractive. What then made Esther stand out?
We know she was respectful because she honored her cousin, Mordecai’s charge to keep her Jewish identity a secret. She shows her respect for authority and also reveals a humble spirit. After being treated lavishly during the year of preparation, it was finally her turn to appear before the king. Each young woman could bring whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace (Picture young women slaying in their makeup and outfits packing several bags of the finest silks, spices, cosmetics and jewelry.)
But Esther didn’t do that (modesty on display). When it was her turn, she requested nothing except what Hegai, her custodian, advised. She could have asked for anything she wanted in the Royal Harem. She didn’t insist on more makeup, jeweled necklaces or fancy fabrics. Instead, she respected Hegai’s authority and advice. As a result of this modest and humble attitude, which perhaps stood in contrast to the other candidates, Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her, including the king.
Esther was not a likely choice for a queen — far from it! She was an orphan and a Jewish exile, being raised by her cousin Mordecai.
But she was exalted to an unusual authority in a kingdom which valued neither women nor Jews. She didn’t become prideful with her new power. She continued to be faithful to God and honor the advice of Mordecai. The spotlight and focus on her outward beauty did not change who she was inside, and eventually, she became the next queen.
Esther was a living example of the words of the Apostle Peter “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
I am not saying you should go and sell your jewelry and hair accessories next week. This simply means we no longer think of outward appearances as our main source of beauty. I suppose there’s an upside to having breakouts or pimples and not wearing makeup. It’s been a visual reminder to me personally that lasting beauty is found in character, words and actions (beyond the face in the mirror) — not a makeup bag.
Dear Lord, may I clothe myself with humility and gentleness today, like Esther did. You continually make beautiful things out of my life. Please keep bringing into remembrance of how fearfully and wonderfully made I am in Your image and help me get rid of the pressure to be someone that you did not create. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
You have the favour of Esther!