First Impressions

Joconde,_Mona_Lisa,_afterimage
Things aren’t always what they seem. Concentrate for 30 seconds on the white dot and close your eyes for 10 seconds. Can you see the Mona Lisa in this plate of vegetables? Photo and painting by Dimitri Parant, Creative Commons

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  –Matthew 6:1-8

The accountant who did my taxes for many years told me one time that he lived in an upper-class community where almost all of his clients were three-digit income people.  For the record, I was not one of them; but he said that so many of them struggled to make ends meet.

It goes without saying that from all appearances, those who lived in that community were the epitome of success.  They were the kind of people that had a boat, an RV, a membership in the swankiest country clubs, and they vacationed in the best of resorts around the world.

However, the reality of it was they were deeply in debt, way behind on their taxes, and had second and third mortgages on their houses.  They lived on a credit income, which is more accurately called a credit outgo.

In the book, The Perils and Parables of Pastor Preechet, the pastor’s first impressions of his new secretary were positive.  After all, she was an attractive, well-dressed and well-coiffed lady that seemed to have life together.  Who would not want a secretary of that description?

But as they talked and she began to share the reality of the world she lived in, he walked away with an entirely different perspective.  The professional appearance was a façade to hide the real, broken person.

Jesus had a lot to say about pretenders.  He was especially hard on the religious leaders of His day who could pray loud and long and disguise their appearances to make it look as though they had gone without eating for several days, so people would think they were on a religious fast.  They impressed, and thereby deceived, a lot of people.

Recently, there has been an epidemic of accusations against prominent men and a few women of sexual abuse.  Whether these are true or not are often subject to debate, especially if they are decades old.  But for those of us who are followers of Jesus, we must live lives of transparency and discretion.  The Holy Spirit of God gives us the power and the will to do so.  Furthermore, God knows every detail of our lives.  Choose to live transparently so that the light of Jesus can shine out through your life.

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