We’ve probably all seen the Febreze commercials with blindfolded people describing what they smell. They describe a clean, fresh scent, and imagine a clean room. When they blindfolds come off, they are astounded to see what we’ve seen all along: the room is filthy. They had been deceived. What they thought smelled like a clean room, was really just a clean scent cleverly disguising a disgusting room.
Our lives can be like that dirty room. We can make ourselves appear to be something we are not. We may know the words to say or not to say when people are listening, we may know what to do and what not to do when people are watching, but in different company or when we are by ourselves, we may be completely different people. The image we try to portray may be different than the inside reality.
Maybe, we want to be seen as “nice” people, and so we try to act nice even to the people we really don’t care for. I’m guilty. There are some people who get under my skin, press my buttons, rub me the wrong way, try my patience–you name it, but I don’t want to be an unkind person, so I “try to be nice”. Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere.” Instead of trying to be nice to people, what I really need is for God to fill me with more of His love for people.
I think we sometimes spend more time trying to create and perfect the image other people see, rather than becoming the people God desires us to be. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were guilty of this outward priority.
In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisees! First clean the outside of the cup and dish and the inside will also be clean.” What Jesus was saying is that they needed to re-prioritize their cleaning; the inside needed to come first.
Like the teachers of the law and Pharisees, we need to put the inside first. Instead of appearing, we need to be. God desires us to be holy, genuine, and to have integrity. Instead of doing and saying the right things because people are watching, we need to let God make our hearts right. If our hearts are right, our actions will follow (Luke 6:45).
Inside or outside? Act or actual? Appearing or being? Which gets more attention in your life?
In addition to being what God desires, being instead of appearing is important because sooner or later, if we are not really the people we appear to be, if we lack consistency and integrity, we will be found out.
When the blindfolds come off, when the lights come on, will your character be proven or will it be revealed? Will people see you as they’ve always seen you or will they see you as you really are?