What We Learn From the Biblical Principle of Beauty
Many of us recognize when something or someone is beautiful. And, we can learn about the Biblical principle of beauty as we consider and ponder the internal and external qualities of beauty.
The Biblical Worldview of Beauty
Beauty is: “an assemblage of graces, or an assemblage of properties in the form of the person or any other object, which pleases the eye. . . it is hardly possible to define all the properties which constitute beauty we may observe in general, that beauty consists in whatever pleases the eye of the beholder, whether in the human body, in a tree, in a landscape, or in any other object.”1
The Dichotomies of Beauty
We have both the internal qualities of beauty (which not everyone sees) and the external qualities of beauty (which are seemingly in the eyes of the beholder). In any case, what is it about beauty that we may learn?
The Eye for Beauty is Intrinsic
This means that we may see someone and think that he or she has physical qualities that are beautiful. Also, it means that we may see internal qualities of the individual (character, thought life, and personality) that are beautiful. An assemblage of all of these may make an individual one of the most beautiful souls we know.
But, something to note is that commenting on the beauty of non-choice attributes (genetics) is flattery. However, commenting on choice attributes (i.e. character or moral choices) is a genuine expression of the appreciation of beauty.
What does that mean, then, when it comes to beauty that surrounds us in God’s creation?
Recently, when my husband and I took a hike to a fall I asked: “What is it that makes a waterfall so beautiful? We all know that they’re beautiful.” A man standing next to me looked over at us, then back at the waterfall, and entered into contemplation about that question as well.
The Biblical Principle of Beauty: External Qualities
External Beauty of Waterfalls
We all innately know that a waterfall is beautiful. We’re designed to know what is beautiful and what is ugly. I love pointing our family’s thoughts toward God when we’re outdoors in His creation:
- water rushes in a pleasing manner to the eye
- often times, the water is crystal clear
- they can look like a bridal veil
- they drape and flow in an attractive manner
- the use of line in them is remarkable
- they add another layer of lovely texture to God’s earth canvas
- they’re all unique
- there’s nothing else like them
- they start from somewhere, go somewhere, and never stop (non-seasonal water falls)
- when they freeze, they’re like a memory. . . a moment captured in time
- they add music to our surroundings
- it declares God’s majesty and creativity
- they add a softness to their surroundings
The Biblical Principle of Beauty: Internal Qualities
Internal Beauty of Waterfalls
There are several instances in Scripture where it’s recorded that Jesus used concrete things in His creation to teach us spiritual truths. Therefore, to an extent, we can “see” spiritual things–the internal qualities.
I think spiritual truths are internal qualities because they work around the intellect to reach the heart and form convictions. The question is, what will the individual’s response be to Holy God about the lessons?
Reflections on Justice and Righteousness
These are some internal qualities that come to mind from my studies on this topic:
But let justice roll out like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
-Amos 5:24 (NASB)
God wants Christians to govern by consistently ruling justly and righteously. Biblical justice and righteousness are beautiful. As Christians, we know this internally because of Christ governing within us. When Christians rule in these ways, it brings order and beauty to the lives of others.
And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.
Revelation 14:2 (NASB)
I often think of Revelation 14:2 when I listen to the crashing of ocean waves, the echo of waterfalls reaching the bottom of a pool, and the trickle of a babbling brook.
These various forms of rushing water are peaceful, calming, soothing. They’re a symphony all on their own with layers of notes. In one fashion or another, they grab my attention. Aren’t these beautiful descriptions of God’s voice? They resonate with us internally because we can relate to them as we read His Word and know His voice.
God’s Purposes for Waterfalls
We can appreciate the spiritual truths and purposes of waterfalls by God’s design. They aren’t just for beautifying the world. They bless the environment in several ways. And, they also have functions that help us to govern the earth (have dominion and subdue it).
The Biblical Principle of Beauty is Everywhere
Where do you see beauty declaring God’s glory? It doesn’t have to be seen in the woodlands, tropics, or mountain tops. If you keep your eyes open, you can see it in the crevices of sidewalks and nooks of tree branches as birds make their little nests. Indeed, it is everywhere and always pointing us to our Heavenly Father through our five senses.