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For Your Weekend: Recognizing the Beauty in the Mirror

Mallory Smyth
November 18, 2023

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Matthew 25:14–30

Certain things are universal to the experience of women. For example, we have all sat with a friend, heard her complain about her appearance, and thought, “You must be insane! When I look at you, I see your unique beauty, and all you see is someone full of imperfections. How is that even possible?” I bet you can think of that friend right now. Everyone recognizes her beauty except her. 

I bet you have been the friend in that scenario. Someone you know compliments something about your looks or personality, and you think, “Who are you looking at? It can’t be me because I can see myself in the mirror and can’t see a single thing you are describing.” Everyone recognizes your beauty except you.

It is a hallmark of our brokenness that we easily recognize the beauty in other women, but we can’t seem to find it in ourselves. We effortlessly call out other women’s gifts but can’t for the life of us call out our own, or we diminish them by comparing ourselves to someone else. 

Eve did not have this problem before the fall. She knew her beauty and talent. Our first mother knew these things were incredible gifts from God and meant to honor Him. What joy she must have had seeing His reflection in herself.

Unfortunately, it was too good to last. Eve followed the lies and chased after her version of happiness. When she and Adam fell from grace, what was once ordered became disordered. Her beauty, once so easy to see, became hidden and distorted. Today, we face the same problem. How do we recognize what God has given to us, and how do we use it to honor Him?

This weekend’s gospel is one you probably know well. In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the talents. Here is the summary: 

A man left town and entrusted his property to some of his servants. He gave one servant five talents, another two talents, and another one talent. While he was gone, the first two servants, recognizing the value they’d received, put their talents to use. Each doubled their talents. The third servant buried his underground, not using it or increasing its value. 

When the master returned, the first two servants presented their talents. The master commended them, saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy” (Matthew 25:23).

The third servant returned the hidden and unused talent, admitting that he was afraid of his master and did nothing with his talent. The master condemned the servant as wicked and lazy. He took that servant’s talent and gave it to the servant with ten talents. He then threw him out where there would be “wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).

What does this parable have to do with the way women see themselves? Everything. 

If we read closely through the parable, it is clear that the master took pleasure in his servants. He entrusted them with his property, a clear sign of trust. He gave them each some talents—a large sum of money worth about 6,000 denarii, or 6,000 days wages.[1]

Although they received different numbers of talents, the servants should have felt a sense of joy that they had been entrusted with such wealth and a duty to honor their master. 

And yet, not all of the servants responded the same way. They had different perspectives on what they had received. 

The first two servants recognized the talents for what they were, generous gifts entrusted to them to bring honor to their master. Seeing the goodness of their boss, they put them to use and multiplied the gift. Upon their master’s return, he saw how they had used his gifts to honor him and poured out even more blessings upon them. With joy, they could see just how good of a man they served. 

What about the third servant? The text reveals that he did not understand the gift he had been given. Did he see the servants with more talents and think his master was holding out on him? Could that comparison diminish the magnificent reality that his master trusted him with 6,000 days' wages? Did it lead him to see the master as harsh instead of good? We can only speculate, but it is clear that he did not recognize his one incredible talent for the gift that it was. Therefore, afraid of his master, he hid his talent and missed the joy that awaited him. It’s not that he wasn’t gifted or that the master was stingy; he was blind to the gift and missed out on the joy it could have offered. 

Ladies, Jesus Christ, enters our broken and battered world to heal our blindness and restore what had been hidden and distorted. Through His cross, Christ reveals your beauty and giftedness. By His blood, He washes you clean so that when you look in the mirror, you can finally see all that He entrusts to you. Stop looking around at what other women have and allowing it to diminish how you see yourself. Take a moment to declare that your Heavenly Father is not holding out on you but has given you everything you need to honor Him and enter into His joy. 

He has blessed you with physically attractive features (I promise they are there), and He wants you to honor Him by using your beauty to bring goodness to a world that often experiences beautiful things in distorted ways. He has gifted you with abilities and talents meant to be used for the honor of His kingdom. 

You may be an excellent administrator. Take it from someone who isn’t; it’s an invaluable gift. The body of Christ needs holy, outstanding administrators. 

Maybe your gift is offering counsel to others. Sisters, we are all a mess; we need your holy counsel! 

Your gift might be hospitality. Bring that welcoming spirit to a world that has lost the art of human connection.

You may have the gift of joy. Shine that light where there seems to be only despair.

Has God given you empathy? We need holy women who can reach into another’s life and pull them out of the pit. 

God is an endless storehouse of goodness. He has made you in the beauty of His image and showered you with good gifts. Head to the mirror, look for them and call them out in yourself. Everyone else can see them. Don’t miss them! See the gift, put it to use for God’s kingdom, and recognize His abundance. Come out of hiding. All of His joy is there for the taking. 

Food for thought or journaling…

What do you find to be beautiful about yourself? What gifts do you recognize that God has given you? How can you put them to use for God’s glory? How would that give you joy?

Dear Lord, I can be so hard on myself, from how I look to what I think I have to offer the world. It is easy for me to see all You have given other women but hard to recognize what You have given me. I permit You to remove the scales from my eyes today so that I can see myself how You see me. I ask You to show me that I reflect Your beauty and goodness to the world and give me the grace not to let it lead me to pride but instead to lead me to the joy You offer me. I lay before You all that You have given me. Use me to expand Your kingdom here on earth and prepare me for Heaven. Amen.

[1] “Talent,” Bible Odyssey: Society of Biblical Literature (accessed November 13, 2023): https://blog.bibleodyssey.org/dictionary/talent/.

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