Image Isn’t Everything
I grew up in a time when good and evil seemed easy to define. Values like right and wrong were clear. Well, at least for most of us. Hard work and education were honorable pursuits, and we expected loyalty and commitment.
Not that deception and evil didn’t exist. They did! Human nature hasn’t changed, nor have our attitudes and behaviors. But most roles in life seemed to follow an established standard.
But now life is less clear. Values and roles in life appear to be ever-changing and fluid. Still, human nature isn’t different. Neither is God—His nature is unchanging. Life as we know it may appear different. But is it really?
Nowadays, image and branding have become an important industry. People often put so much emphasis on projecting the best public persona. But public image is not always the private reality, as we know from scandalous news stories.
No matter how a person appears on the outside, the heart of a person reveals their true self. God is far more concerned with the heart of a person than with their image. If we’re wise, we ought to be as well.
There is an inspired truth about the wicked person
who has rebellion in the depths of his heart:
He is not terrified of God.
He flatters himself and does not hate or even recognize his guilt.
The words from his mouth are nothing but trouble and deception.
He has stopped doing what is wise and good.
He invents trouble while lying on his bed
and chooses to go the wrong direction.
He does not reject evil.
O LORD, your mercy reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God,
your judgments like the deep ocean.
You save people and animals, O LORD.
Your mercy is so precious, O God,
that Adam’s descendants take refuge
in the shadow of your wings.
They are refreshed with the rich foods in your house,
and you make them drink from the river of your pleasure.
Indeed, the fountain of life is with you.
In your light we see light.
Reflections and Insights
Most people have difficulty with faith in God, because He’s not visible to them. We want to see to believe. Even Jesus' followers had this same mindset (John 14:9; 20:25).
Yet, we accept and believe in many things that aren’t visible, such as our thoughts or gravity. Our words make thoughts known, and we all experience the effects and impact of earth’s gravity.
Faith in God is similar. We know about God through the words and experiences of others, but also the intelligent design of the natural world (creation).
In a similar way, words and actions reveal a person’s heart. This is true for each of us and in relation to one another. The beginning of this psalm is a reminder of the difference between people who go their own way and those who choose to trust in God.
When flattery and flashy imagery enamor you—beware! If you ignore guilt or become numb to your conscience, you’re in more danger than you can understand. And when you value deception over truth, or reject wisdom instead of evil, you’ve crossed a treacherous line.
But here’s some good news. The Lord is merciful and faithful. He makes Himself known to those who seek Him. To those who value truth and want what is good and just.
His mercy reaches up to the heavens and reaches down into the deepest darkness of human pride and rebellion. And the Lord is reachable for each of us.
When you find yourself filled with pride and deception without a sense of guilt, it’s time to change the direction of your life. This often requires God helping you to change your heart to make wiser choices.
As David reminds us—Indeed, the fountain of life is with you. In your light we see light.
Digging Deeper to Make It PersonalReview the Scriptures above as you consider the following questions:
- How is the “wicked person” characterized? What does this person do and not do?
- How is the Lord described in contrast to the wicked?
- What are the benefits for those who are not in rebellion, but trust in the Lord?
- What is your typical response to flattery (of any kind), deception, and wrong-doing?
- Are you aware of and do you appreciate God’s great mercy and faithfulness?
Ambassador, author of several books, and one member of the pastoral team of Poimen Ministries. This article was republished in part with permission.