In Pakistan, and perhaps in India too, keeping or not keeping beard for muslims is a big issue. In previous times, if one didn't keep beard, people used to inquire as to why he didn't keep it. Today, the situation is the opposite. This is a very personal topic for all. For me, as few years of successfully keeping beard have passed, it is important to revisit this matter.
One way to measure the authenticity or truthfulness is to see if one group of people dislike/condemn a thing, and other group like it (as in the case of Mutta Imam Malik). Same is the case with beard. On the one side, you've people having schizophreniac, fundamentalist and paranoid-al reactions to it. They're most often modernists to dislike from their very core religious symbols and statues. And on the other side, you've people who think Islam is manifested in true colors in white, brownish, black or grey beard on men.
Both are extremes and do not follow the middle way. I kept beard - though i don't know telling about my reason to keep of would be of any use - because i read an answer by a Mufti which mentioned a hadith which clearly condemned not keeping beard. Alhamdulilah, i fulfilled this sunnah, which is an awesome weapon of protection from various fitnah in this age, amazingly. Its amazing because how a physical feature can stratify you from evil, and create repulsion in things evil from coming to you. Its amazing because in reality one assumes that battles are fought at the nafs level, against the cunning-ness of Devil. This is where the exaggerated reverence from beard dies out. It alone cannot do any good to a believer. It is just like another aspect of sunnah or obligation that one has to fulfill. I thought that since i have kept beard, i will not be prone any serious and dangerous sin. But i have remained fully exposed to hundred more fatal sins and diseases that beard protects one from, like hypocrisy, bad manners, not praying, etc.
In conclusion, i would like to glorify this feature on believer because it differentiates us from most non-believers, easily giving us an Islamic character, which in case of women happens to be hijaab. Also because, it forces us sometimes to reform our other matters to achieve harmony and completeness of Islamic character. As for fighting off more fatal diseases, one can take lot of help from spiritual shariah, or Sufism of our islaaf, and not the one favored by West (see small book, Sufism, by Hamid Algar). This guidance is needed by all to counter deceptively creative and subtle attacks of the Devil.