Are We Who We Seem To Be?
All human beings have three images: their projected image, their perceived image, and their actual image. Your projected image is the way you desire others to see you. Your perceived image is how others see you. Your actual image is who you really are.
For many Christians, the perceived image is what matters. Simply put, our reputation is of greater importance to us than the true motives of our hearts. This causes us to project ourselves in the way we desire to be perceived. But heaven’s concern is with our actual image. Paul writes:
…We must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].
2 Corinthians 5:10 AMP
Our projected or perceived image is not what will be revealed before the entire assembly of heaven. Rather it will be our actual image, our true heart motives and intentions.
Appearing before the judgment seat is not about earning our salvation. It is about the heavenly reward we receive for how we stewarded the gift of life in Christ while on the earth. Directly after informing us about the judgment seat, Paul tells us what will keep us on track:
It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard…
2 Corinthians 5:11 NLT
The fear of the Lord keeps us in touch with our actual image. The opposite is true as well: the more we lack the fear of the Lord, the more we lean upon our projected image.
Here’s the bottom line: you will serve who you fear. If you fear God, you’ll obey God. If you fear man, you’ll ultimately obey man’s desires. Many times it is harder for us to offend a person we’re looking at—especially if we desire their love or friendship—than the One we don’t see. Thankfully, God has given us a sure standard for testing and adjusting our true motives:
For the word of God is full of living power…cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT, emphasis added
The Word of God pierces deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for who we really are, not who we project ourselves to be. If listened to and obeyed, God’s Word will protect us from deception and position us for great reward.
This week, go to God in prayer and invite Him to reveal what is in your heart. Know that while He may correct you, He does not condemn you. His refining work is done in love and is for your good. Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to shape your motives according to His Word so you can thrive in truth!