by William Effler
In a popular movie there's the line, "The bad stuff...is easier to believe." Yes, the bad stuff is easier to believe, certainly easier to remember. The bad stuff can be lies keeping us from becoming what God intended us to be. Lies can keep us from attempting something that God wants done.
In the first chapter of the Song of Solomon there's a young woman having a hard time accepting her looks. What she says teach us three important lessons about ourselves. Properly applied, these truths will free us to reach out to others in incredible ways.
The young woman says, "I am dark and beautiful...tanned as the dark tents of Kedar" (Prov. 1:5). She's speaking about the reality of her looks. She is aware of how she looks, to herself and to others. God wants us to have an accurate view of ourselves. I tell my college students, "At 46, I have given up on being six feet a long time ago. The only place I will have a vertical leap like Michael Jordan is in my dreams!" When people see themselves in the reality of "God's light" they will work to grow in their lives and leave the rest to God.
A second lesson we glean is we not only need to have an accurate view of ourselves but we need to accept our limitations, without resentment. The woman goes on to say, "Don't look down on me, you fair city girls, just because my complexion is dark. The sun has burned my skin...I have been sent out to tend the vineyards...see what the sun has done." (Prov. 1:6,7). The woman's once natural beauty, is now a beauty that is marked by the sun's harsh rays. Why? The woman is a common laborer who tends the fields of her family while the "fair city girls" are indulged in a life of luxury. A person with resentments bottled up inside himself finds it very difficult to love himself or others. Resentment can easily turn to jealousy. Jealousy wants what other have. Resentment can turn into greed. Greed wants more of what one already has. Resentment can also carry the attitude, "If I can't have it, I will make sure you can't get it either." Resentment can turn into a preoccupation with everything, except the advance of the Kingdom.
The third lesson is God wants us to experience a depth of love from Him that we have never known. God wants us to hear that we are "beautiful, lovely, stately, and a sweet smelling fragrance" (see verses 8-10, 13-15). The woman hears a cascading waterfall of feelings from the young man that cannot be expressed with merely one word or even the three words, "I love you." The King, our heavenly Father, offers affirmations to the woman that look beyond inner and outer beauty. The King expresses a desire that looks beyond self-doubt. The King looks beyond self-imposed resentments. The King wants to be with the woman even though she is looked down upon by others and is "put out" by her own family (Prov. 1:6).
The woman in the Song of Solomon teaches us three lessons that are intimately tied to sharing the Good News with those who have yet to experience the Father's love. First have an accurate view of who you are. Second, accept who you are without resentment. Third, be open to experiencing a depth of love from God that you have never known. Paul knew the truth of these lessons as he prayed, "I fall to my knees and pray...that Christ would be more and more at home in your hearts...and that you would know how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ..." (Eph. 3:14-18).