For years we’ve lived in a world that increasingly cares about our public image and what people think about us.
And that desire continues to grow.
As if the wave of the internet and social media wasn’t enough, we now live in a time where people pass immediate judgement on your character and generally who you are as a person based on if you’re wearing a mask and seeming to social distance.
The outward appearance of holiness and “better than thou” living has become what many of us strive for.
Virtue signaling in our words and public actions have become commonplace.
And this is very dangerous for our personal character.
Because the more we continue to value what other’s perceive of our character,
And the more we emphasize the things that are merely outward and public,
The more we forget to look at our true selves.
The more we start to think we really are “good” people.
And the more we won’t see our need for a Savior and God to continue to make us more like Him.
I’m Not Saying Masks Or Public Acts Are Bad
But our society has continued to go down a path of “you are a good person if you do this specific, public action” and “you are a bad person if you do not do this specific, public action”.
And this is at a time where our public “Instagram” life already doesn’t line up with our “real” life.
The issue is that we are rushing down a path where we make entire character assumptions about others with very little context about their life as a whole, but instead based on a very small set of information that could very well be done out of almost any other reason other than their true character or beliefs.
We’re judging books by their covers at a breakneck speed.
What Jesus Had To Say About Outward Appearances
Again, the issue isn’t what you’re doing publicly, but that the more we emphasize our public appearance, the less we’re focusing on the more important part of our lives: our character.
The problem is that we’ve become so quick to judge others from a sliver of their public appearance, that I’m afraid we’ve also begun equating our own personal character with what we present publicly; but our public appearance and our private character aren’t the same thing.
As we see throughout Scripture, God cares far more about our inward character than our outward appearance:
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'”1 Samuel 16:7
And, again in Jesus’ ministry we learn something very important about caring more about our outward appearance over our inward character:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”Matthew 23:27
To have an outwardly beautiful appearance,
And an inward life full of dead people’s bones,
Is NOT the life God would have for you.
What Does This Change?
Again, I’m not proposing that any of what you already do, or others do, outwardly might be wrong at all. It very well might be good. But is your inward character doing well?
The issue isn’t really about doing outward things, it’s that we have pushed so much for polishing the outward appearance that it’s likely that we’ve all forgotten our inward life.
So, What Is Your Private Life Like?
It’s been said that your character is decided on what you do when nobody is watching.
So, what do YOU do when nobody is watching.
Nobody is taking pictures,
Nothing will be shared online.
And, even then, when you do these good things,
What is your intent?
Where is your heart?
Scripture tell us that none of us are good inside (Romans 3:10–12, Romans 3:23),
That none of us have a pure heart,
That what we deserve is death (Romans 6:23a)
But that God’s free gift of grace is to offer us life (Romans 6:23b).
Do you believe that?
Have you been living that?
Have you been asking God to transform your inward character,
Above your outward public image?
Because after all the applause is gone,
After all the things of this world fade,
The only thing you’ll really care to hear is:
“‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”Matthew 25:23