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to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:2–3

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The wisdom of God brings beauty from ashes and redemption from apparent defeat (Isaiah 61:2–3). In His upside-down kingdom, God loves to take broken pots and turn them into exquisite vessels for His service (2 Corinthians 4). God looks beyond the surface to see true beauty, which flows from a humble, gentle, and quiet spirit (Matthew 5:3–10; 1 Peter 3:3–4). In this, Jesus is our model. He who looked common but was the most uncommon of men because of the perfect beauty of His Personhood. His beauty is so transformative that it changes those who truly see it. As we are transformed by the beauty of Jesus, we become like Him and we ourselves learn to grow in love.

Knowing that God exalts the common things of life and gives them dignity and honor makes us value things which the world says are unlovely or unlovable (1 Corinthians 1:27; James 2:5). Understanding that God also invites us to participate in bringing the shalom of His kingdom to a world desperate for redemptive change gives us a burning sense of mission as we live our everyday lives (James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 10:3–4). We are called to wage beauty in this world against the powers of darkness. In doing so, we become more like the Creator of all beauty and the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

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We all love a Cinderella story. Perhaps that is part of the charm of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, born Kate Middleton. Catherine, a commoner, met Prince William at the University of Saint Andrew’s in 2001, and the two married in 2010. Overnight, Kate rose from normal life to royalty. She soon won the hearts of the British people through her sense of fashion, gracious etiquette, and down-to-earth compassion for the marginalized and vulnerable. Since becoming duchess, Kate has invested time, energy, and considerable resources into a wide variety of charities that reflect her and William’s philanthropic passions. Royalty, we discover, can wield considerable clout for good.

Imagine for a moment that you were royalty living today. What activities would you pursue? What beauty would you foster? What charitable causes would you support? Write down at least three answers to each of the previous questions.

Do you realize that God considers you a royal in His kingdom right now (1 Peter 2:9)? He calls you beloved and fills you with the power of His Spirit and the resources of His kingdom to help bring about shalom on this earth. Look at the list you composed above and ask God to show you which of these areas you can take tangible steps toward today. Don’t wait until you have everything together—remember that you already belong to the King of the universe and that He is sending you into the world powerfully equipped to do His work.

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Reflections of God

What if your to-do list today included only two words: Love beautifully. What might that look like for you today?

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