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Exodus 38:8
He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Can it be of little significance that Moses breaks up his typical narrative structure to tell us specifically where the bronze for this sacramental wash basic comes from? This is the only instance where he does this. Exodus 38:8 reminds me of the proverb that says, “Beauty is fleeting, and charm is deceptive, but a woman who fears the LORD, she is to be praised.” And of 1 Peter 3:3-4, which says: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair or putting on gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” And of 1 Samuel 16:17, which says: “God does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”

Moses doesn’t tell us how these women have been ministering at the tent day by day, but we can infer that they’ve been offering help to the tired construction crew in a plethora of ways. Providing meals, washing the dirtied garments, offering words of encouragement, keeping wily children at bay, praying over the work, singing songs of joy—the sort of essential ministry that has always kept the engine of the world running smoothly. Yet Moses doesn’t outline that here. He doesn’t interrupt his detailed narrative to chronicle how they gave, but he instead heralds what they gave up. I can understand why too. For these women, handing over their bronze mirrors means a bit of temporary discomfort. It means sacrificing that customary ten-minute morning routine of putting on their makeup and looking presentable for service. The irony is that while they can no longer see their faces, we see them clearer than ever. And boy are they beautiful!

Friend, don’t take this as an argument for why women should throw away their makeup bags! It’s not that at all. But take it as a poignant illustration that the choice between self-esteem and self-sacrifice is like the choice between a typical mirror in a lady’s handbag and a holy washbasin in a divine tabernacle: there’s no contest!