I remember a camera commercial from quite a few years ago whose main punch line was, “Image is everything!” The commercial was filled with people who were perfectly dressed, perfectly made up, perfectly posed, and even perfectly windblown. The camera could capture the image perfectly. This is such a selling point for the camera because “Image is everything!”
Image is not who you are
Image, of course, is not everything. Image often has nothing to do with substance, or even with reality. Image is what we choose to present to the world around us. In ancient times, actors did not have the fancy make-up that we have today. Instead they would hold masks in front of their faces to portray the image of the character they were supposed to be. Our modern word “hypocrite” comes from the word used for these ancient actors. The ones with the masks. They were pretenders, or “people with two faces. They have their real face and also a mask that they show to the people around them. They are concerned about the image they convey. They live by the motto, “Image is everything.”
Image has a place of some importance, but it is far from “everything.”
It is not even close to being the most important thing. We should care what those around us perceive us to be because we are a reflection on everything we represent. We don’t want to negatively reflect on our family, our job, our school, and certainly not on our God. Image does have some value.
integrity is who we are
However, if we focus on our image, our focus is misplaced. Our image is not nearly so important as our integrity. Image is who other people think we are, but integrity is who we really are. If we focus on our integrity, our image will take care of itself. Integrity is when everything about us is consistent, because it flows from the same source. Integrity is when our thoughts, our words, and our actions are all the same, because they flow from an undivided heart. A person of integrity is a person who stands behind what he or she says, who acts in accordance with their words, and who lives an undivided, consistent life. Integrity is in danger of becoming a forgotten virtue in our “Instagram Society,” but integrity matters far more than image. Image will crumble eventually. Just ask those who have been exposed by the #metoo movement. Just ask megachurch pastors or national ministry leaders who have been exposed as perhaps being more concerned with maintaining their image than they have been with nurturing their integrity. We learn from the scriptures that God does not look at the outward appearance of a person, but rather at the heart of a person.
God is concerned with our integrity, and we should be too.
God is concerned that all aspects of our lives be consistent, and that they flow from a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Him. If we faithfully cultivate, passionately nurture, and tenaciously fight to maintain integrity in our lives, we will never have to worry about our image. It may not mean that everyone will like or appreciate us, but we will be true to ourselves and to our God. We can be content with the image that we present, and can have the assurance that God will be, too. Choose integrity over image every time.