In a recent driving experience, I was confronted by the conflict between the honest, authentic me and the me that I am trying to become. I was sitting in gridlocked, Los Angeles traffic when the driver beside me erupted in a fit of aggressive road rage. He began yelling, gesturing, and cursing the stopped drivers around him. As he continued like this for several minutes, I realized that despite my calm and poised exterior, I was just like him on the inside. I was not outwardly cussing or gesturing at other drivers, but I was feeling and feeding those same angry emotions on the inside of me.
In that moment of reflection, I remembered the encounter in the Scriptures when the prophet Samuel came to Jesse’s home to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as King Saul’s successor. Jesse’s sons were strong and handsome, and as they paraded past the aging prophet, Samuel became so enamored with their external appearance that God had to remind him, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
I realized in that moment that God was not comparing my calm, patient exterior to my fellow-driver’s more outraged one: He was looking at my heart.
The truth that God sees our heart should not make us paranoid or worried about every little thought we have. Indeed, God is not a micromanager that gets upset over every emotion or struggle we experience as humans. But He does desire our integrity, wholeness, and authenticity. He wants our outer being to be an honest reflection of our inner life.
It is fairly easy for me to project a wholesome, loving, faith-filled persona on the outside, but the real question is, “Do I actually embody those things on the inside?” Who are you on the inside? Is your inner reality coming into greater alignment with the character of Jesus so that the good things you are broadcasting to the world are in fact truth?
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)