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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 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 lovely for our husbands. We want to be clean, well-groomed, and properly dressed. We need to take good care of our bodies and our health. 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 and set us free from any toxic thinking that would be harmful to 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 dress 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 that will cause people (other than my husband) to pay attention to my figure and to notice my curves and beauty?
- Am I willing to sacrifice significant amounts of time/money/energy to have a specific figure, face, hair, or beauty – even if my husband thinks it is unnecessary?
- Do I feel pressured by my husband 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 husband’s attention and attraction? Even if it involves a lot of money, dishonesty, addictions, or sin?
- Do I have a food/exercise addiction (or anorexia/bulimia)?
- 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 our family’s budget in order to look as good as possible, even if it means the family suffers or my husband is disappointed in our financial situation?
- Do I become irrationally jealous if I think my husband notices that there are women in the world who could be more beautiful than I am?
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 to doll ourselves up for our husbands sometimes. It’s not wrong to dress nicely, although Scripture encourages us not to dress too extravagantly. It’s not wrong to brush 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 glory 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 don’t seek to be 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 and glorify 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.
- 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 husband 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.” Those things are personal between each believer and the Lord. Romans 14 admonishes believers to keep matters of personal conviction private so that we do not create stumbling blocks for our brothers and sisters. 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.
Has God given you a breakthrough 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
When Your Husband Is Not Physically Attracted to You – Guest post
Being a Trophy Wife Is Not the Goal, Dear Sisters – by Radiant
I Don’t Have to Be the Most Beautiful Woman in the Room
I Want to Be Desired by Other Men, Too – Guest post
When another Guy Wants an Inappropriate Relationship
My Journey Into Modesty and Femininity
My Journey into Modesty by A Fellow Wife
Overcoming Feelings of Insecurity
Godly Femininity Is Beautiful to God and to Our Husbands
SPIRITUAL HEALING IN CHRIST
How to Have a Saving Relationship with Jesus Christ
The Spiritual Healing Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant
April, this is so, so good. I am so proud of you to write such honest things to cause us all to think about why we are doing what we are doing.
I am a woman in her late 50’s. My husband and I have been married 27 years in November. It took me several years to learn these lessons. I would have failed the vanity test a few years back, spending $$ and so much time on clothing, and hair, not to mention a lifestyle (houses and cars to impress).
After 14 years of lessons teaching me to honor and respect my husband (it takes me a while to catch on!), I learned that even though he always thought I was beautiful and loved me no matter what, my husband never liked me wearing make-up or my short, hi-lighted hair. The clothes I would choose, when asked his opinion, he would say, “Anything looks good on you, but it’s not really my style.” My reply, I’m ashamed to say, to all of these were, “Oh, Honey, you just don’t know what the style is!” This sure tells who I was trying to impress, and who I WAS NOT caring about impressing!
It’s a hard test to pass in this world that we live in, but as in the case of our forefather Abraham, we, too, are asked to ‘come out’ from the world and be different. I challenge all of your readers to be different. Don’t let the world determine who you are. God says, We are a chosen and set apart people. We are to look different and act differently than the world. If we don’t, who will the world run to when they need different answers than the world can offer?
For the last 3 years, my husband and I have lived in a foreign country, one in which modesty is the norm. Passing the vanity test has been very easy for me while living here. We will be returning in 2019 to America, and honestly, I’m hoping and praying that I can maintain what I have learned, experienced, and lived while here. It makes me very happy to read articles like this to remind me that there are others who are such an encouragement in this area.Thanks!
Thank you for taking the time to share a bit of your story! I can relate a lot. I used to have short, highlighted hair, too. My husband didn’t like that. And really, turns out, didn’t care much about if I wore makeup or not, either. He loves my hair long and he likes my natural look. I was so much like you, I didn’t care what he thought and only thought about what was fashionable or what I wanted, regardless of his feelings.
Now I really enjoy wearing my hair long and not having to fuss with makeup.
I’m so thankful the Lord opened our eyes!
I love what He has done in your life and heart. In fact, if you believe it would be honoring to the Lord, I would love to share a bit of your story on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page. I think it may be so inspiring to a lot of other women.
It is amazing the similarities and the journey we find ourselves on! You have been such a blessing to me along the way, actually since 2014! If sharing my story can help you encourage others, I am honored to have you use it. May God be glorified…
Thank you so much, Dianne! ❤️
My sister thank you soo much for sharing this . The Lord shared with me exactly what you wrote and at that time i was on the road to vanity, trying to fit in at my work place and telling myself I need to look attractive like other woman and also so that my Husband can see that he also have an attractive Wife( not that he said i am not). I forgot that when we met I was just as plain, i was not into fashion and i never liked to draw attention to my self, i did not use to use make up, i wore cloths i was comfortable in (cloths that are not too tight or too short either, much less exposing my cleavage, not that someone told me not to wear them it just was not my swag. my sisters and friends use to make fun of me, but i did not mind. but for some reason along the way peoples comments started getting to me. and i thought there is no harm in making a few changes on my look, next thing i knew i was not saving money as i use to anymore, or even tithing and giving as much. i started spending more money on cloths that would draw attention though not short dresses or skirts but, cloths that would bring out my figure and it felt good when people would say i have a great figure it almost got to my head, for the first time in my life i even bought a full set of make-up just to make me look extra beautiful .
The Lord opened my eyes just in time before i could get too attached to those things. I literally threw out all the cloths that my spirit was not comfortable with and i have no regrets till to day. and yes i still get people that look at me funny when they see me dressed different from how other ladies at work are dressing. but i really do not mind anymore. As long as my heart is at ease wearing what i am wearing and i am also feeling comfortable in what i am wearing that is all that matters to me , Besides i even repented for all the people that i led into sinning with the way i use to dress. I do not want anyone to perish just because of me wanting to look attractive .
I was reminded that I did not come to earth to draw attention to myself but to the Lord Almighty. Jesus never care once about being attractive , instead he only cared about doing the will of the Father. And i look to him and daily i am learning to be a modest woman in every area of my life. Because i just want to please Him all my life however hard it might be. i have this yearning desire to be holy i realized i do not want to fit in into this world . I want God to be proud of me, and for him to say to me WELCOME HOME thy good and faithful servant.
I was also reminded that i was spending way too much money on myself than on doing good works for the lord as a christian should. The Lord clearly said we should be abound in good works ,be generous.Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This helped me to realize where the focus of my heart was.
Its just soo sad that most woman have not realized that it is very dangerous to consciously dress to attract/ advertise themselves, because in so doing we are leading our brothers into sin ; No wonder the Lord says His people perish because of lack of knowledge.
Its no secret that MOST man have a weakness, when they see a beautiful woman dressed “Sexy” as the world calls it. they want more, even their gaze shows the mind is indulging in a lustful thought.
These scriptures will condemn most woman at the day of judgement if we do not intercede for ourselves and for our sisters/brothers for their eyes to be open ;
1. Romans 14:13 (ESV)-13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to
put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
2.Matthew 5:27-28 New King James Version (NKJV)- 27 “You have heard that it was said [a]to those of old, ‘You shall
not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks
at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery
with her in his heart.
3. Matthew 18:6- But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him
to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
4. 1 Corinthians 8:12- By sinning against your brothers in this way and wounding their weak conscience, you sin
5. James 4:17- If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
My sisters lets us share this with other sisters and lets also pray for God to open their eyes, so that we all do not provoke our brothers to commit adultery in the heart.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. I’m glad that God helped you to see what was happening with your motives. If we realize we are trying to attract other men inappropriately, or we are spending money we really don’t have, or we are seeking to glorify ourselves or please people, these are important things for us to acknowledge. Then we can repent and turn to the Lord. He can help us see what to do next.
It’s tempting to try to create a lot of “rules” for women about these issues. But rules don’t address the heart. And the heart is what God is most interested in, not our own human-created rules. These issues go way deeper than what we wear to why we do what we do.
May we all seek to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to desire to please Him above all else. May He give us spiritual light to see any areas where our motives dishonor Him so that we can repent and we can be a blessing to those around us and so we can live holy lives by the power of the Spirit.
When we are right with God and with people, there is such peace and joy!
My sister its so true when we are right with God we have peace and joy explainable. And He even increase His love in our hearts. I realised that when He shared something with me immediately I want to share it with others, though some may not always relate.
I also want to add that I have learned that to be right with God the first step is to acknowledge what we have done wrong and to be willing to change and allow God to transform us in the image of Christ.
Yes, we are saved by grace and not by works . but it is also written that we should be Holy as our Father is Holy. and that we are to sort out our salvation with trembling fear and not play around with what the Holy Spirit convict us to be wrong or ignore Him. Holiness has to do with our conduct, the way we conduct ourselves in all areas and why we do what we do. Everything we do should be motivated by love, the love we have for the Father and in wanting to please Him all the time.
It is also written that the Lord is coming back for a Holy people . And we can not please both men and God we have to choose. We are not called to be conformed to this world and everything that is in it. Things of this world are a destruction from what truly matters.
May we all be encouraged that the Father Loves us VERY MUCH, such that he gave his only son to die for us, while the world wanted nothing to do with Him even, but he still chose to die for us. He will not withhold anything from us, much less when we desire to please Him. All we need to do is ASK. Even when we fall we can ask Him to fix us into that which pleases Him.
Much love 🙂
I love this. What a joy to see all that the Lord is doing in your heart!
Hello Mrs April,
I have some questions connected to this topic: vanity. If you want to you can answer them.
I must say that I like fashion illustration. I mean I like the way different techniques are used there, the expression, the way that color is used. I also graduated an Academy of Fine Arts and have been thinking about drawing some of such illustrations.
After reading your post and comments I realised that those illustrations can be temptation to women. I mean women shown there have strong makeup on faces, they look also cold (without emotions) and sometimes look a little bit like sexual objects. I am talking about illustrations by such artists like, for example: David Downton, Cecilia Carlstedt, Sandra Suy, Stina Persson etc.
I would be intersted if you could write what do you think about it?
I think that it can be tempting to women. It is strange cause most of those artists are women. It seems to me that women want look idealistic rather than natural. I think that I like the way that different techniques are mixed in these illustrations than, let’s say, type of feminity it shows. I can image artworks that uses the same style but show not idealistic, mannequin type of women.
In real world I don’t have any need for women to br idealistic with make up etc.
This post is for me, as a man, very informative how women think about themsleves and how much self-doubt they have.
Man from Poland,
Yes, there are temptations for women to feel a lot of pressure to look extremely unrealistic, worldly, sensual, idealistic, airbrushed, and perfect. And yes, like sex objects, sadly.
These images are presented as the idealized version of femininity. As if this is what women should strive to look like. It is easy for many real life women to feel ugly or insecure when they compare themselves to fantasy.
Thanks for sharing. I’m glad this post was helpful.
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