Let’s Stop Begging for Acceptance
"Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong." Acts 3:7 (NIV)
I shouldn’t even be thinking this.
But that didn’t change the fact that I was.
The parade of beautiful women dancing at the game during halftime sent my mind reeling.
How did they get to be so … perfect?
To be honest, my thoughts caught me off guard. Of all things! Body image is a topic I often speak and write about to girls and women. Why was I thinking these thoughts, especially considering most of the women were probably 20 years my junior?
My body was in the bleachers, but my mind was at the gate.
Let me explain.
In Acts 3:1, Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, were on their way to the temple to pray when they saw a crippled man. Every day this man was put outside the temple gate to beg. Because of its size and magnificence, the name of this entrance into the temple court area was called Beautiful.
When the crippled man saw Peter and John entering the gate, he asked them for money. "… Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them" (Acts 3:4b-5, NIV).
The crippled man had a need and he looked to others to meet it.
As I read this encounter, the name of the gate struck me.
I immediately thought of our children as they head back to school. Our culture’s obsession with external, physical beauty can put them in a place similar to the beggar. Ads, TV and social media constantly shout what acceptable looks like. And it doesn’t stop there. They might even receive signals to become beautiful from friends and yes, even from us, their family.
Other times, pressure to arrive at Beautiful comes from within. Every day many of us go to our closets, mirrors or make-up bags for the tools we think we need to achieve beauty.
The gate called Beautiful might be the scale we hope will tell us the right number, the gym we join to become the right size or the mall we cruise through looking for the right outfit.
We go to the gate Beautiful and there we beg for what we need for that day: acceptance, approval and affirmation. It’s not enough to sustain us, though. Tomorrow, searching again, we’ll return.
We’ll go back and so will our children. They’re watching us, taking their cue on how to be acceptable from us.
The crippled man had to beg every day as well. I’m sure he never dreamed Jesus would meet his needs for good.
We each desire value and significance. As our children head back to school, they also need to find approval in their world.
Like the crippled man in today’s key verse, Jesus offers His helping hand to each of us. It’s the hand that will heal us, and put our begging days behind us. Jesus wants us to stop begging at society’s gate for what He freely gives.
With the power of the Holy Spirit we can say: "No more!" No more will we beg when Christ died to give us the acceptance we need. Like the crippled man, let’s take His hand and look to Him each day for strength and approval.
Dear Jesus, I don’t want to go to the gate of society’s definition of beautiful. I don’t want to pass this burden on to my friends and family, either. You are the One who has everything I need for significance and strength. Today, I come to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 3:3-4, "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on jewelry, or beautiful clothes, or hair arrangement. Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God." (TLB)
Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (ESV)
If you know a young woman who needs to become strong in Christ, purchase Lynn Cowell’s book Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants for her. Magnetic is a study based on God’s view of strong and beautiful — the fruit of the Spirit!
Bring today’s message to the women and girls of your community. Stop by Lynn’s blog today for more information on hosting or attending an event.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What things in culture trigger self-doubt in your life when it comes to seeing yourself as beautiful? Make a conscious decision to reject those today in light of who God created you to be.
Ask God to show you how to develop beautiful strength in the life of someone around you.