Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Release Self-Image

Day 73

Release Self-Image

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2


few years ago, the county straightened our curving country road. This was an answer to prayer; for years I'd worried about my family as they traveled a stretch of road that boasted three blind curves in a half-mile stretch. But once the road was straightened, the mess that was left behind dampened my joy. Where cottonwood, elm, and hedge trees had stood, there was left only a treeless landscape punctuated by large piles of brush. The bulldozers and backhoes that had cleared a path for the new roadbed had also destroyed all vegetation sixty feet on either side of the road. I was only partially joking when I said it looked like the aftermath of a nuclear event. The view was barren, but our path was straight; those who traveled the road regularly were much safer than before.  

Renovation is messy, and getting our spiritual houses in order seems as daunting a challenge as straightening a crooked road. As we turn our attention to the release and repentance needed within, we may for a time lack the energy to implement behaviors that will bring needed changes to our physical bodies. But remember, the “mess” that remains after the main portions of the spiritual and emotional work are done is cosmetic and represents the final portion of any transformation. Our daily lives are made safer to navigate as God cleanses us of hidden sins that have tainted our interactions with those He’s given us to love, and these heart changes are the main portion of the journey. 

Chronic dissatisfaction with physical appearance reveals wrong focus. Have you seen those pictures that can be perceived in two different ways? The most famous is an image that can be viewed either as a vase or as two people facing one another. The interesting thing about such pictures is that both images can't be perceived simultaneously; you see either one or the other. In a similar way, we can’t keep our thoughts on Jesus and on ourselves at the same time.  

When we determinedly focus upon the Lord, our attention is drawn away from any real or perceived shortcomings of our own. We can't think about His goodness and beauty while analyzing our physical appearance. We are unable to ponder the meaning of a passage of Scripture while worrying about how others think we look.  

God doesn't magically transform our outward appearance as we focus on Him; He does something better. The Lord is able to transform how others perceive us and how we view ourselves, and these are superior gifts to the physical transformation that will eventually follow. As we seek Him, He changes the attitude of our hearts, which in turn impacts the very expressions on our faces.

We also must repent of the judgmental spirits that have caused us to be harshly analytical of the outward appearances of others. When we have been exacting with our fellow human beings over surface issues such as clothing, hair, and body weight, we will be frightened of being judged in the same way. The harsher our judgments of others have been, the more self-conscious we become, because we are frightened of being judged as we have judged.

Spiritual transformation cannot be self-conscious. The moment our eyes shift from the Lord to ourselves, we lose spiritual perception. We can learn to turn our eyes away from ourselves and toward the Lord whenever our reflections or photos displease us. We can determine to entrust how we look to others into His hands. Our best beauty treatment is to allow the Holy Spirit unhindered access to our hearts.

Pray:  Lord, for so very long I’ve been preoccupied with the way I look. I have been so afraid of being judged by other human beings. Forgive me for judging others based on how they look. I lay this preoccupation with outward appearances at Your feet, and pray to be focused more steadily on You. I release my fear of being judged by others to You, and ask that You work in their perceptions of me. Lord, please transform me into Your likeness, inside and out. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen. 


Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith....  

Hebrews 12:2a, The Voice

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