External, Internal and Eternal Image

2 Corinthians 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. [NIV]

“Known and read by everyone” got me thinking about how much effort we spend on creating an image we think will make us look good. It’s easy to confuse image and vanity because both are so closely tied to external influences.  Attention to our image supports almost any part of the economy I can think of at this moment; housing, auto, clothing, food and certainly personal care. It’s not a bad thing to want to look good but these external things are only a convenient way for us to manipulate reality.

Paul reminds us part of our image is paying attention to our internal, intangible things that are far less easy for us to manipulate by buying the “right” whatever.  They’re written not with ink on a contract or a sales slip “but with the Spirit of the living God.”  Paul confirms that what is written on our heart becomes a visible part of our image that can be “known and read by everyone.”  It takes the our external efforts and God’s internal commitment  to complete the eternal image being written within us: “You are a letter from Christ…known and read by everyone.” 

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