Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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November 27 – Substance, Not Image

“Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” Proverbs 25:14

Devotional Thought For The Day

Anyone who has lived in the semi-arid regions of America [and it is probably the same in other semi-arid regions around the world] has experienced the great “12 inch rains” we had in Idaho.  Where it has been hot and dry for days on end, people are eager to rejoice in a good soaking rain.  The clouds would gather up, the sky would turn dark and threatening, the wind would blow, and the rain would come hurtling down- one drop every twelve inches apart, then the storm would fall apart or blow past us.  The disappointment was palpable.

The comparison of this phenomenon to the way in which some people behave is quite apt.  We’ve all experienced “bluster and bravado,” people projecting themselves as quite powerful, or exceptionally talented, or unusually intelligent, or extraordinarily creative, or clever and organized and capable – they boast of gifts.  But they cannot produce; it was all “image” – they do not give the gift. The experience is the same, though more personal, when people project goodness, good will, and even friendship toward us – and then they fail to support us in our time of need, or even stick a knife in our back.  We discover that they are not “nice” – it was all a facade to disarm us and take advantage of us.  All of these people are “boasting of a gift that they do not give.”

Many people today look at this as a game to be won – and “life coaches” can be hired to help you spruce up your “image” so that you can interview better, present a better resume, and make a great impression on others. Rather than spending time and determination actually making themselves better, gaining skills, knowledge, good qualities, and a proper work ethic, they instead devote themselves to changing the window dressings and painting the exterior, merely creating a better “image,” but one without any real substance.  What a waste of time and energy!  How utterly unproductive!  And how great the disappointment, anger, and discouragement when the image is burst and the substance [or lack of it] is revealed – and sooner or later this always happens, the time for proof and performance comes along and those without substance fail.

Some people are so accustomed to this behavior that they think God must be the same – presenting Himself like a Wizard of Oz, all bluster and bravado, all show and no go. Religion then becomes a game, creating and dressing up the most “attractive” god so that people will come, join, and plug in.  This is all part of creating their own “image,” something that enhances their own chances to deceive and take advantage of others, projecting to others an impressive “spirituality” and “devotion” to their god.  But they only fool themselves and others – and a day of accounting is coming.  God is Who He is – as He presents Himself in His Word.  He neither needs nor desires for anyone to “dress Him up” better.  He has sent His Son, who is “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person.”  He is “upholding all things by the word of His power,” and He controls all things for the good and welfare of His people, the church, for “when He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” [Heb. 1:3]  God projects an image – in the Person of His Son, our Savior – but God is far more substance than image.  Though we can truly know Him in Christ Jesus, through His Word, the Bible, we can never fully fathom the depths of His gracious love for us, His mercy, and His power and glory.  He is always much more, and much more “for us,” than we can imagine.

So, how about us?  What path or strategy are we going to take up in life?  If we are to emulate God, and strive for true godliness, then honesty and integrity are the path, whereas deceptive image, especially distorted and overblown image, is seen for the evil it truly is.  Honesty and integrity mean repentance and humility, and acknowledgement and profession that we have no strength except what God gives to us.  Indeed, our “image” is more about Him, His love, His forgiveness, His gift of salvation and eternal life in Christ Jesus, His power and goodness, than it is about us.  We recognize that apart from His love we are nothing – just so much “dust in the wind.”  But His Word will never pass away, and He will always prevail in what He has spoken and decreed, so that those who stand with His Word will never suffer any lasting harm. So we seek substance, true and genuine faith and knowledge of His Word, and devote ourselves to allowing Him to be our strength, our life, our whole being – and not to mere “image” – except that He be seen and glorified in us.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, in You there is no pretense, and although many did not believe You, You are all that You taught and did for us. Help us to break free of creating and merely perceiving “images,” that we may see things as they truly are.  Help us especially to do this with ourselves, that our faith, trust, confidence, and boasting be in You alone, and that others may see that all glory and honor belongs to You.  Amen.