God is far more interested in who we are when no one's looking, than the image we present to others. Character always trumps reputation. Our character is the sum of our values, our thoughts, our words and our actions. Our reputation is shaped and fashioned pre-dominantly by what others see publicly. Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is, and the tree is the real thing. - Abraham Lincoln
The world is obsessed with image and impression management. Celebrities have PR managers, Instagram personalities have marketing methods, and well the rest of us have iPhones (Am I right?). We can filter, cut, crop and curate our lives to create the perfect perception. We can post on Facebook and pretend we have it all together when really, it's falling apart at the seams. We can praise God passionately at Church on Sunday, then ignore Him the rest of the week. The truth is, God's not into appearances.
HE'S ACTUALLY MORE CONCERNED WITH OUR MOTIVE, OUR ATTITUDE, AND OUR ACTIONS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, THAN WHAT WE DISPLAY PUBLICLY.
Does that mean we ditch the desire to uphold a good reputation? Not by any means. It's not either or, it's simply an order of priority. Honest character will always lead to a good reputation, but a shiny reputation doesn't mean there's always substance behind the veneer. When we focus on the development of our character, we live from the inside out, not the other way around.
In Mathew 23:27 Jesus confronts the Pharisees who were engrossed with how they presented to others and ignored the deficits of their own character. The Message Version reads, You're hopeless, you religious scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You're like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds."
Whoa. Somebody say savage! Jesus pulls no punches. He challenges the Pharisees to stop faking their faith. He says to them zealously.
STOP PRESENTING ONE THING, AND BEING ANOTHER. STOP SAYING YOU LOVE GOD, BUT DON'T SHOW IT IN THE WAY THAT YOU LOVE PEOPLE.
He calls them out for who they are; religious, immoral and hypocritical. To be truthful, all things that at some point I have been. Thankfully God invites us into a life of forgiveness, redemption and freedom through what Jesus did for us at Calvary. Side note: Isn't it amazing that Jesus was never harsh on sinners, but He comes down like a tonne of bricks on the self-righteous and proud? That's another sermon for another time. The point is as Christians we are called to a life of integrity. Integrity is literally defined as the state of being whole and undivided. It's the quality of being honest and demonstrating strong moral principles.
OUR FAITH MUST BE ROOTED IN GRACE, BUT OUTWORK IN OUR ACTIONS.
Our words must be kind and Christlike regardless of what forum we are in. Our hearts must be soft enough to take correction, and secure enough to know it doesn't undermine our value.
The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good, and how he treats people who can't fight back.
- Abigail Van Buren
One of my personal prayers is that who I am in public, is no different to who I am in private. I hope that the "Pastor" people meet on Sundays is the same mother, wife and friend my husband, children and others get on Mondays. I hope that I don't just talk about the marriage and relationships, but demonstrate respect, loyalty and commitment in my own. I hope the sermons I write and the blogs I release come from a place of intimacy and closeness with my God, not a regurgitation of someone else revelation, or well thought out marketing strategies.
DUPLICITY IS SUCH AN UGLY THING, AND SOONER OR LATER THE CRACKS WILL START TO SHOW.
You can only fool people for so long until it becomes clear there's no fruit on the tree. Hebrews 4:13. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Am I there yet? Definitely not, just ask my husband. He sees the flaws (there's a lot!) and so does God.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION. HUMILITY, NOT SELF-PRESERVATION.
Progress takes place when we come before our God humbly and say, "Father thank you that you love me just the way I am, but don't leave me the way I am. Make me more like you and change anything you need too." When we do that, I think we actually start to become who He destined us to be.