October 24, 2022
Bishop, W. F. Houston, Jr.
Making decisions based on the opinions and judgments of others is effortless. "Will this make an impression on people? Will more people follow me as a result? Will they take me seriously?" When our lives are dominated by the need to project a specific image, we lose the ability to be genuine. We have to pretend to be perfect since being honest about our flaws would make us look weak. To maintain the approval of those around us, we must play up to their expectations. We must drive this vehicle, wear these clothes, and be seen with these people. We expend so much effort guarding the image we've cultivated. It's terrific to be attractive, and successful, and exude self-assurance. But it crosses the line when you get obsessed with your appearance and view everything through the lens of how it will affect your appearance.
Jesus is quoted as saying the following about the Pharisees in Matthew 23:5: "Everything they do is for show." They sat in the seats of honor at banquets, put on long robes to give the impression that they were spiritual, and offered money in front of other people to make a good impression. It's admirable to present oneself well, to be generous, and to have a decent job, but the problem was the motivations behind their actions. They acted this way to garner attention, make a good impression on others, and bolster their reputations. The problem with an image-driven lifestyle is that it's exhausting! Maintaining your social status, impressing your friends, looking better than them, hiding how you feel, and acting as if everything is fine when it isn't is unsustainable. It's like running on a treadmill that never stops moving. It is a foolproof method for depleting your energy, ending your creative process, and robbing you of your joy.
Some people are so exhausted and stressed because they see themselves seated on the throne. Protecting their public image is a priority for them. But you must remove your image from the throne and replace it with God. You are not required to perform, pretend, or compete with your peers. They are not actual friends if they accept you only if you meet their expectations. It's liberating to be natural and open without worrying about other people's thoughts. In Romans 8:29, the Apostle Paul says we should be "conformed to the image of His Son." It will be impossible for you to mature into the person God created you to be if you are preoccupied with how others perceive you.
It is unnecessary for you to hide your true self or to worry about what other people might think. Even those who appear to have it all together don't necessarily do. Everyone has their own set of problems. Trying to win them over is a waste of time. There is no reason for you to depend on other people's approval. The Most High God has already blessed you.