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Be Real, Be Authentic
By Joel Osteen - Sep 09, 2022
It's easy to go through life making decisions based on what other people will think. "How will this make me look? Will this be impressive? Will this gain me more followers? Will they approve me." When we live image-driven, we can't be real. Because we can't be authentic, we have to hide our weaknesses or people may think less of us. We have to play up to others to stay in their favor. We have to drive this, wear this, and be seen with these people. We spend so much energy protecting the image we've created. It' great to look good, be successful, and carry yourself with confidence. But it crosses the line when you become driven by your image and run everything through the filter of how it's going to make you look.

Jesus said about the Pharisees, "Everything they do is for show" (Matthew 23:5). They wore long robes to look spiritual, gave money in front of people to be impressive, and sat in the seats of honor at banquets. It's good to dress well, to be a giver, and to have a good position, but the issue was their motives. They were doing it all to be seen, to impress people, to build their egos. The problem with living image-driven is it will wear you out. The pressure of trying to keep up with people, impress your friends, look better than them, hide how you feel, and act as though everything's okay when it's not is not sustainable. That's a treadmill that never stops. It's a sure way to drain your energy, stop your creativity, and steal your joy.

The reason some people are so stressed and run-down is they have their image on the throne. They're doing things to protect how they're seen. But you need to take your image off the throne and put God back on the throne. You don't have to perform, pretend, or keep up with your friends. If they only accept you if you perform to their standards, they're not true friends. It's such a freedom when you can be real, be vulnerable, and not worry about what other people think. The apostle Paul says we should be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). If you're obsessed with your image, you can't be conformed to His image, and you're not going to become who you were created to be.

You don't have to hide or pretend or worry about what people will think. The people who look like they have it all together have issues too. Everyone is dealing with something. Don't waste another day trying to get their approval. You don't need them to validate you. Almighty God has already approved you."
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