In modern times, we sometimes hear the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig.” I wonder if it is simply a more modernized version of Proverbs 11:22, which says, A beautiful woman who rejects good sense is like a gold ring in a pig's snout.” [CSB]  The NIV puts it like this “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” This word, discretion, means “Without a taste for judgement, discernment, reason.”

Whichever phrase we use, the message is that making superficial or cosmetic changes does not change the nature of something or someone. 

As a woman, I like to wear stylish clothing that fits will, I exercise to stay in shape and to be healthy. I fix my hair and put on makeup before going to work or church. I use cleansers, moisturizers and other such things to keep my skin healthy and looking good. I do not believe these things are wrong. However, they have one thing in common – the results of these efforts are all only skin deep. 

Similarly, the Proverb tells me that if I reject good sense or lack the taste for godly discernment I will have no real changes to my character. I will still be the person I was before God called me.

Speaking of pig-related phrases, my grandmother used to say, “You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” I also thought of Nana’s words when I read Proverbs 11:22.

Sisters, I would never call another woman, or even myself, a “pig” or a “sow’s ear,” but I do understand that God’s work in us is meant to change us from what we are, due to human nature and sin, into something of great value. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit do turn people (women and men) of less-than-beautiful character into Spiritual beauties. 

God is not after superficial changes that might make us look good on the outside. He is performing a complete, internal makeover. 

In the process, He adorns us with the garments of the finest materials, including patience, humility [1 Peter 5:5], and kindness. He provides us with pearls of great wisdom. [Proverbs 3:22] He bids us to put on the lipstick of kind words and to spend time with Him so that our faces shine with the light of His glory in us radiating outward. 

Proverbs 31:10 [NIV] says, A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Whether you are a wife or not, noble or virtuous character (as the King James puts it) is of great value to us as women and to all those whom our lives touch – whether bosses or co-workers, husbands or children, fellow members of the body of Christ or strangers we meet in the grocery store. 

Most importantly, this noble character is of great value to our future Husband – Jesus. Godly character is what He is looking for in a mate – what makes us beautiful to him.

The Father could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. He is the Creator of sows and silk. But His focus – the work He is doing – is turning carnal humans into the beautiful bride of Christ. The Father is working a true transformation in us – not just making cosmetic changes.

For our part, we must value discernment, judgement and reason – we must cling to good sense. The book of Proverbs is full of guidance on sound judgement, good sense, godly discernment and holy reason. It’s a great place to uncover these things so that we can understand and be a part of making the real changes God is looking for in us.

I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at