My late grandmother, Yvonne Nuhrah, was an Avon lady extraordinaire. She perfected what we kids and grandkids dubbed “the Avon walk.” Though standing only a bit over five feet tall, when she started around the neighborhood with any of us in tow, her feet seemed to take on a Roadrunner whirling blur, leaving us energetic youth struggling to keep up with her. I was fairly certain she could hand out a thousand books per ten minutes, though perhaps my youthful estimate on that were a bit skewed.

Little did I dream that one day I would marry, and that my lovely wife Dana would choose, in addition to her duties as church secretary, to follow in my grandmother’s whirling footsteps.

And so for the last few years I have been married to an Avon lady. Much has changed through the years. There was no such thing as the internet in my grandmother’s Avon days, but now, my wife explains, she does more business online than in person. And all of that “Avony stuff” would be well and good, except for the fact that she obviously sees in me a desperate face in need of professional help ...

My first hint that things were going to be different was when she began to notice lines forming under my eyes. She, of course, had just the product to fix that. And, skeptical though I was, after a few weeks I had to begrudgingly admit that it worked. But it did not end there ...

“Those spots near your temples are being caused by sun exposure,” she said with certainty. “Start using this blahbiddityblah (my word for it, since I cannot remember all of the big names) and it will protect you from that.”

Then came the serum for the under eye bags, the silky cream for overall moisture, the “correction creme” for leathery spots, and the eyelid stuff for puffiness. At this point if I trip and fall flat on my face I am reasonably certain I will not stop sliding till I hit the Canadian border.

The manly thing for me to say is that I am only doing all of this because I love her. But honesty compels me to admit that she has been right thus far in all she has suggested, and I now have a youthful looking face and neck mounted on top of my dry, leathery shoulders. I thus look a bit like I am photo-shopped in real life, though not nearly to the ridiculous extremes of the internet face filters that make people with old Yoda skin look like supermodels, as if no one is going to figure that one out.

All of this trouble to make a face look good.

But very early on in humanity’s history, how a face looked became an issue, more so over the “why” than anything else.

Genesis 4:3-6 says, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?”

The countenance means “the appearance of the face.” Cain’s face looked horrible at that moment, so much so that God Himself noticed it and commented on it. His problem was not age spots or wrinkles or eye bags or puffiness; it was anger, jealousy, and rebellion. Anyone who has ever seen someone with a horrible attitude, anger issues, etc., knows how hideous a face like that appears, no matter how youthful or unblemished.

There is simply no beauty serum quite as effective as a peaceful, quiet, obedient heart before the Lord.

A few years ago I was called to go visit a hardened old sinner in the hospital with just days or weeks to live. I went to see him, and his face was just like Cain’s — hard, cold, ugly. But that hardened old sinner bowed his head and heart before the Lord that day and asked Christ to save him. His heart, and his face, were instantly changed. Each time I went to see him for the next two weeks before he died he was smiling from ear to ear, beaming, peaceful, happy. He was dying, yet he looked decades younger.

Get all the creams and serums you like; you and I can compare notes on them, since my wife is educating me well. But there will never ever be a better “beauty serum” than falling deeply in love with Jesus.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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