Beauty is captivating and we often just want to gaze at it, whether it’s inspiring or soothing our weary souls. This is part of its goodness as it allows us just to receive without attempting to accomplish something in our own strength. But this tends to open the door for much false guilt as well.
To be sure, it’s better to give than to receive. But this doesn’t mean there’s never a time to receive. In fact, it’s often a point of pride that keeps us from receiving the blessings of others. And, in this way, learning to receive beauty keeps us humble by reminding us of goodness beyond our own efforts.
Beauty is to be enjoyed for all the goodness it has to offer. And while certainly we can cultivate it, it’s not something we have to arrange or make happen. And so regularly gazing at beauty seems to be our natural and best response – allowing our souls to fully bask in its goodness. And there’s no guilt here for simply wanting to take it all in.
To be sure, true guilt can come in when we distort or otherwise selfishly misuse beauty. This happens when we objectify each other or make an idol out of particular expressions.
At its best, the beauty we see in each other and the world around us are dim reflections of God’s beauty. And while we’re free to gaze upon it and allow it to minister to our souls, we must never forget the one these images are pointing us back to.
We miss the healing and transformative power of beauty when false guilt keeps us from freely enjoying it, and when we cheapen it with our limited and selfish focus.
Learn to gaze on beauty in all its many forms without guilt or shame. This is a reflection of God’s glory to freely enjoy.