Image Conscious (part 4)

fruittreeDiscontentment is nothing new.  In fact, it’s the oldest trick in the Book.

We all have a tendency to focus not on what we have, but rather that which we have not been given.  It’s been this way from “The Beginning.”

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of  good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that  you eat of it you shall surely die.’” – Genesis 2:16-17

But then… the distortion began, the questioning, the tempting.  “Did God REALLY say…?” 

And suddenly Eve, no longer content with the perfection God had provided, was enticed by the allure of the one thing that He had withheld.  Satan twisted God’s words, challenged His goodness, undermined His instructions.  And Eve bit.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”  – Genesis 3:6

She had everything, but risked it all by following an empty promise that she could have more.  In doing so, she traded life for death, perfection for a curse, Truth for a lie.

“The Enemy succeeded in getting the woman to value physical appearance more highly than less visible qualities, such as trust and obedience.  The problem wasn’t that the fruit was “beautiful” – God had made it that way.  Nor was it wrong for Eve to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.  The problem was that Eve placed undue emphasis on external appearance.  In doing so, she believed and acted on a lie.”  – Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free

Let’s be honest, is your heart any different?  What lies have you believed?

  • I will never be beautiful because I am not perfect.
  • My value is defined by a clothing size or a number on the scale.
  • My appearance tells others who I am.
  • What I have/what I look like matters most.
  • The way I look is a mistake.
  • In order to be acceptable, I have to look like everyone else.
  • I am unworthy if I don’t fit the world’s current definition of beauty.
  • If only I were/had ____________, then I would be happy.

Yes, our struggles are more than skin deep: they reveal our idolatrous hearts.  Like Eve, we can be easily enticed by the allure of what we don’t yet have, believing that true happiness depends on gaining just one thing more.  And, like Eve, we have been deceived.

So, what’s the answer?  Take a good, long look in the Mirror.mirror

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:23-25

Focusing on the Truth of God’s Word will help you to remember who you are and WHOSE you are.

  • Never forget that you are God’s wonderful creation!  (Genesis 1:27, Ephesians 2:10)

God knows you, loves you, and purposely created you exactly the way you are – and He doesn’t make mistakes!

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.” –
Psalm 139:13-16

“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’”  –Romans 9:20

  • Change your beauty focus.

Focus on developing heart traits, such as modesty, self-control, a gentle and quiet spirit, rather than putting an emphasis on externals.  (1 Timothy 2:9-10, 1 Peter 3:3-4, 1 Samuel 16:7)

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
– Proverbs 31:30

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John  2:15-17

  • When tempted toward discontentment, renew your mind.

If your thoughts are constantly focused on the world’s values, your mind and heart will easily be influenced.   Your true value comes from God!  If you look to anything else in this world for your worth, you will tend to find yourself discouraged and focused on all the ways you don’t measure up.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

  • Speak truthfully.

Your words can build up or tear down both yourself and others.  Be careful what you say – you might convince yourself of lies!

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  – Proverbs 18:21

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” – Proverbs 12:25

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

  • Trust God with all of your circumstances

Don’t wait for “perceived perfection;” rest in the knowledge that God is in control of every aspect of your life!

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

  • Remember that Christ redeemed you at a great price.

If you are a follower of  Jesus Christ and know Him as your Lord and Savior, you are His chosen bride, covered in His perfect beauty!  When you allow yourself to become dissatisfied, you are focusing on yourself rather than His righteousness.  It’s really not about YOU!

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

“Do you not know that youare God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Where is your focus?  Is it on your image or His?

We have many voices vying for our attention, but focusing on the wrong ones can fill us with dissatisfaction in the riches we have been given and distract us from the promise of paradise yet to come.  I pray that we will encourage each other to keep our eyes on what really matters and not on the temporary, superficial issues of today.

“…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18