Beauty and Goodness
How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
~ Lamentations 4:1-2
Lamentations refers specifically to the wealth of Jerusalem, and how little it mattered when the city was destroyed. The precious stones that they had worked and fought for so hard were poured out into the streets like worthless gravel. They discovered what was really important: the precious sons of Zion, who died or were taken slave. And their value was not the value of gold. They were fragile human beings, the work of God, as humble and breakable as pitchers made out of clay. For their true worth was not their beauty, but that they were pitchers; that is they were containers, into which God could pour life and spirit.
We call a handsome young person with great talent and reputation a “golden boy” or “golden girl”, and when we consider life, how true we find that Lamentations is. Gold is by nature timeless in beauty, for it does not corrode; but it will eventually become worthless to a human being, for we do corrode. If we are beautiful, our beauty will desert us. Even if our physical gifts are modest, they will only become more so. So why do people strive so hard for beautiful skin, and count it so valuable, when we can see that we will have to live without the beauty? Is there anything more pitiful than someone whose self-worth is so tied to their youthful beauty, that they become grotesque from plastic surgery and cosmetic changes in their middle and later years?
Our worth is that we are God's creation. Like the precious sons of Zion, we are a “holy nation, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9); beautiful appearance is only a meaningless bit of fun. Our true value is that we are fragile containers created by God to hold His Spirit, and this is what will matter in the long run — and, if we are wise, in the short run.
Heavenly Father, let me always value myself an others as your vessel, and not by the world's yardstick. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer