The Beauty of the Lord

Some time ago a friend and I called at a mission press in the city of Calcutta.

President, Hong Kong-Macao Mission

Some time ago a friend and I called at a mission press in the city of Calcutta. It was my first visit, and I was a total stranger. As we approached the entrance the manager was standing in the doorway. He jokingly began to comment on the way "they dress 'em in your mission." As we discussed business with him, his ready wit and constant humor were continually interjected into the conversation. He spent much time in calling attention to the clothes and outward appearance of his customers, and was free in his approval or disapproval of the tie, shoes, or clothing.

A few days later I was studying the ninetieth psalm, and came to the seventeenth verse: "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." The lesson was clear to me at once: "Man looketh on the outward appearance." The shine of the shoes, the crease in the trousers, the neatness and color of the tie these things appeal to the human eye. The ego makes us want to dress so as to catch the admiring glance of our fellows. This is the way of the world.

But, alas, this is not restricted to the world! How often it comes out, even among us as ministers! Some feel that they must be dressed ac cording to the latest fashion. They must keep up with the newest cuts and wear flashy ties or they are out of place. The effect is to draw attention to the clothing. These ways of the world are not pleasing to God.

In God's sight all this pride about clothes must be very displeasing. He looks not at the appearance but at the heart. He sees not the outward drapings be they ever so colorful but He sees the thoughts and emotions and reads the very motives as though blazed in bold headlines in the sky. He is displeased by all these manifestations of pride in the life.

The psalmist says, "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." Our main aim in life should be the perfecting of holy characters that will qualify the body to be clothed in garments of light when Christ comes. Much less emphasis should be given to the outward adornments, which, regardless of their human value, are but "filthy rags" in the sight of God.

Jesus illustrated this point by calling attention to the lilies of the field. Theirs is no affected dress. Yet in their unadorned and natural beauty they outshine even Solomon with all his wealth and glory. Simplicity in the dress always makes a person appear in the best light. We judge others by the style of the clothing worn. Gaudy clothes reveal vanity. Simplicity reveals modesty.

"A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate at tire.

"There is an ornament that will never perish, that will promote the happiness of all around us in this life, and will shine with undimmed luster in the immortal future. It is the adorning of a meek and lowly spirit. God has bidden us wear the richest dress upon the soul." Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 643.

True refinement shows forth in the life and true beauty needs no adorning. Outward ornamentation and expensive dress do not disguise when it is lacking. The servant of the Lord says further: "/ have been shown that the main cause of your backsliding is your love of dress. This leads to the neglect of grave responsibilities, and you find your selves with scarcely a spark of the love of God in your hearts. Without delay, renounce the cause of your backsliding, because it is sin against your own soul and against God. Be not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God.

I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God." Ibid., pp. 647, 648. (Italics supplied.)

As we study to know about Christ and His life, we learn that He lived and dressed very simply. There was nothing about Him to at tract attention to His person. The Messianic prophet says of Christ, "He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." Isa. 53:2. Our Lord's dress was not what drew men and women to Him. He wore no flashy clothes to attract the multitudes. It was the simplicity of His message that gave power to the heart-searching words He spoke. 

As representatives of Christ we need to learn the lesson in simplicity that Christ's life teaches us. More than anything else we need to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." Isa. 61:10. Especially should this be true of God's ministers. "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness." Ps. 132:9.

When one is clothed in this robe he is truly beautiful, and his life will attract men, not to himself, but to Jesus; for he has put on the Lord Jesus Christ. This garment of righteousness is one we need not worry about putting off and on. When the heart is right with Christ, His robe of righteousness covers us continually, just as Adam and Eve were clothed with light in their sinless state.

So, "let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us," and let us not in this late hour of earth's history be spending a lot of time and money in trying to beautify these mortal bodies, but rather be perfecting our lives for translation, when we shall be clothed with beautiful, spotless garments of light and beauty.

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President, Hong Kong-Macao Mission

June 1953

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