Image and Identity

“The Lord does not see as man sees . . but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV.

Integrity is more important than image.

My thoughts and comments today are about “image and identity.”

Appearances can be deceiving; not everything, nor everyone, will be as they always appear to be. It is said that any person is an amalgam of three identities: “the one others think you to be, the one you believe yourself to be, and the one God knows you to be.” Obviously, the latter is the most accurate and important. Establish your identity in Christ and the Word of God, independent of the opinions of others. Appearances are superficial, only the public face by which you reveal only what you intend to reveal. Inevitably, judgments of one another are largely made by appearances.

You will have expectations of others, as they will of you. Though first impressions are important, we are told, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Sad but true, the graphic design and marketing of a book can be as important to its sales and success as is its content. Similarly, sometimes a person may be more than they appear, sometimes less. Occasionally, you may be disappointed at apparent inconsistencies in yourself or others. Reality does not always correspond with the image another projects or the impressions you form. Jesus said, ”Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” John 7:24 NIV.

That’s why it is important to value integrity, yours and others’ – being the same, at all times in all situations. The prophet Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from the family of Jesse.  Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13 NKJV. Samuel examined the eldest to the younger – except one was missing, the youngest, David, who was busily tending his father’s sheep. As Samuel surveyed the choices and presumed to anoint the eldest son, Eliab, God spoke, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV. Read that verse again slowly and thoughtfully, “The Lord looks at the heart.” Solomon advised, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Read Proverbs 4:20-23 NKJV. Let your life truly reflect your heart.

Appearances may impress but God searches and knows every heart. Jesse was mistaken for depreciating David, his youngest son. Samuel was mistaken for overly appreciating the age and physical appearance of Eliab, the eldest son. God makes no such mistakes; He looks at the heart to find and affirm what is irreplaceable and invaluable. Integrity is more important than image. Read Psalm 78:70-72/Acts 13:21-23 NKJV.

Jesus’ strong indictment against the proud Pharisees was: “You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:28 NLT. See Matthew 6:5 NKJV. Paul warned of, “. . those who boast in appearance and not in heart.” 2 Corinthians 5:12 NKJV. Paul then concluded with these words, “No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 TEV.

My prayer for you today is that you recognize the difference between image and identity.