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 spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious

(1 Peter 3:3-4).

Here Peter is reminding women what real beauty is. It is not what we do to our body outwardly that makes us beautiful. It is not the trendiest hairstyle, fashion accessories, or fittest body. These things are not bad things, but they are definitely perishable things. They do not define Biblical beauty in God’s sight.

Peter tells us it is the inner woman, the hidden person of a woman’s heart that determines “imperishable” beauty—the kind of beauty that lasts. He tells us this kind of beauty is that of a gentle and quiet spirit.

Cues From Paul
This imperishable beauty does not come easily. It only happens when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our soul, and begins to conform us to the image of Christ. However, even with the Holy Spirit, I admit I fail and have to repent often. I pray daily for a gentle and quiet spirit.

In our contemporary culture, we attribute words like “gentle”, “quiet”, and “meek” with weakness and timidity , but Paul describes himself in 2 Corinthians 10:1 as having both the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, meek is defined asenduring injury with patience and without resentment; deficient in spirit and courage.”

We know Paul was a Gospel-centered giant. He may have endured injury with patience and without resentment, but he was far from deficient in spirit and had significant amounts of courage. He preached fearlessly, evangelized dauntlessly, and suffered willingly. Yet he was able to call on the meekness and gentleness of Christ to speak boldly to others. Being meek and gentle is far from being weak or timid.

Our Flesh Screams
Being gentle also goes hand in hand with self-control, as we see in Galatians 5:23, which lists the fruits of the Spirit. This is not only the outward self-control necessary when dealing with relational conflict, but also inward self-control for when we are dealing with restless or sinful thoughts in our mind.

Gentleness, meekness, and self-control enable us to handle conflict with others in ways honoring to God. These traits embody a quiet heart and spirit.

Our flesh screams to be heard. We find ourselves in situations where we are demanding to be understood and recognized. We replay situations and conversations in our minds, until it becomes so noisy that we cannot hear the Spirit telling us to be still. Our thoughts tell our hearts what to feel, and our feelings will often result in ungodly behavior towards others.

Wage War
So, when we pray for a quiet heart, we are waging war with our flesh.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 gives us insight into this war: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

With God’s power through the Holy Spirit, we are able to destroy the noisy arguments and every lofty opinion of ourselves that makes us think we are better than others. It is with God’s power we can take every self-promoting thought and make it captive to obey Christ by loving others.

There is absolutely nothing weak and timid about that kind of war. I know I am unable to wage this kind of war without the Holy Spirit, but I also know God gives us others in the body of Christ to help us. If it were not for the Spirit of God taking up residence in me and a community of God-sent believers to help me, my mind easily becomes noisy. It is far from quiet.

Be Still
In my community of believers, I have my husband. I am thankful he is here to help me purge the noise when my mind is unsettled. I willingly allow him into my thoughts when I begin to feel overwhelmed. If anyone knows me, it is my husband. Even when I want to rationalize or justify my noisy thoughts, he doesn’t go there with me.

And, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am able to submit to his rebuke. But as we all know, this sanctification process is not for the weak and timid. It’s hard. It’s dying to self. It’s killing sin, waging war.

But praise be to God, he gives us everything we need to battle against our flesh: his Spirit, a body of believers, and, if we are married, a husband. God is faithful to provide everything we need to look more like his Son.  

Since I know I need all the help I can get, I recently picked up a book written by Elisabeth Elliot entitled “Keep a Quiet Heart”. In the introduction of the book, she shares her heart’s desire:

“Lord, give me a quiet heart
that does not seek to understand
but confident steps forward in
the darkness guided by Thy hand.”

That’s my heart desire too.

Can we begin to seek the Godly beauty of a quiet heart, even if it means we have to wage war with our flesh?