Tuesday, March 13

My Hands, His Nails

For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands. --1st Peter 3:5 (NIV)

I've been a nail-biter for years. This nervous habit has, at times, kept my hands from looking anything but beautiful. Friends encouraged me to seek the help of a manicurist, so that I could see what my nails could look like if I only gave them a chance to grow. When I did finally have my nails done by said professional, I was not quite satisfied with the results. It looked so artificial--and indeed it was--to have something synthetic attached to my fingertips. I failed to see how that was supposed to be the key that kept me from putting my nails in my mouth.

Over the last several weeks I have, at last, ceased being a nail-biter. My natural nails have grown out to a length that is pleasingly feminine in appearance. I think my favorite part of all this is how lovely my left hand looks now. My delicate wedding band, coupled with a diamond engagement ring, appear all the more "grown up," (for lack of a better phrase.) Having given up my ugly habit, I can now make my husband even more pleased with me for displaying the outward token of his love for me in a more attractive manner.

When it comes to pleasing God we can only do so much before we realize that our best efforts fall short. In fact, unless we are worshiping and serving God out of a sincere love for him, there is nothing pleasing at all. Our hearts are deceitful and dark if we do not profess a faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. No matter how good or moral we think we are, anything we try to do to earn God's approval or cause him to look upon us favorably would be as obtrusive and ill-fitting as the artificial nails I tried.

When Christ hung upon the cross, he took upon himself the ugliest, most vile habits and sins of the world. The punishment that we deserved for these things is eternal death in the form of total and eternal separation from God. However, in God's great mercy he provided a means by which we could avoid such a desperate state--he sent Jesus. When we put our hope in God, and believe that he fulfilled the promise of a Messiah, a Savior, our hearts are transformed. In response to the work Jesus did on the cross, and the unconditional love he has for us, the Holy Spirit works in us and enables us to worship and honor God more fittingly.

The church is metaphorically called Christ's bride. When she is in a state of humble submission to the commands of her Lord, no longer does God see a person who is chewed up, uneven, and unpolished. Instead, he sees the perfection of his (un)natural beauty. In the absence of anything artificial or contrived, she worships him more purely and honorably than before. In this way, the love we have from God is displayed outward and becomes even more attractive to any who see it. This is the mark of beauty in Christ's bride, the church.

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