NOT MERELY OUTWARD
AN AMAZING FACT: Before the 1930s, diamonds were rarely given as engagement rings.
Egyptians worshiped the circle as a symbol of eternity. They plaited rings out of reeds and gifted them to symbolize everlasting love. They wore them on the third finger of their left hands because they believed the vein of that finger traveled directly from the heart. The Greeks learned this tradition from Egypt, passing it to Rome and beyond. But it wasn’t until a diamond cartel coined the best advertising slogan of the 20th century for the hardest substance in nature, convincing us that “a diamond is forever.”
In the Bible, a king’s ring symbolized his authority. Rings were given to trusted servants (Genesis 41:41, 42), to potential mates (Genesis 24:22), and in celebration (Luke 15:22). Like today, jewelry and fine clothing were also used simply for beauty (Ezekiel 16:11–14). Of what purpose are the gems and bright colors God created except to lend beauty? We express ourselves through our wardrobes, homes, and landscapes. But self-expression goes awry when we rely on clothing, hairdos, houses, cars, gardens, and gadgets for our value (Ezekiel 16:15).
Swinging the pendulum in the other direction, Puritanism shunned the use of superfluities like jewels, color, and modern technology. But Peter’s balanced approach, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward” (1 Peter 3:3), ensures that the beauty of your character matches—or exceeds!—that of your person or possessions.
In Haggai, God promises His people a ring as a sign of being chosen (Haggai 2:23). But even better, God adorns us with the “garments of salvation” and the “robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). It’s okay to surround yourself with beauty, but don’t let it replace the beauty of salvation.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. Job 28:12-18