Don’t praise a book by it’s cover…

Jyeva’s teacher told us this week about how our daughter just shines Jesus in everything she does.
 I think I’d like to be a little more like my daughter. 😉 
*photo created with the vrsly app

Session 4 –  Don’t praise a book by it’s cover…
My mama taught me early on that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover and that this rule goes for actual books, as well as people, and stuff you need to buy, and life situations, and all kinds of things.
I like to read. A lot. I love the new book shelf at the library. Glossy and perfectly hardcover marvelousness, but half the time I open the book and it’s slightly or mostly trashy, has all kinds of sexual verbage, some not-so-minor cursing, concealing a terribly undeveloped plot and weak characters. I sound really judgmental, authors, I apologize ahead of time.
The reality is, a glossy, shiny, clever book cover can not make a book worthwhile to read. Some books, I have even stopped reading before chapter one was finished.
We are like this too. We can be glossy in appearance. Maybe this looks like we actually put on our makeup, did our hair, or maybe we are seriously the woman who “has it all together” or speaks kind and tender things to the neighbor and checks on church members. We can recite the catechism. We want to sound good, look good, even feel like we know what we are talking about and look like we know what we are doing.
None of these things are bad, in and of themselves. In fact, most of what I listed above are really good and can be very genuine fruits of a life lived in mercy and grace. 
Romans 2:25-29 warns us, though that none of what it “looks like” matters:
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
I have the problem that I can set aside what it’s supposed to look like upfront and just be me in real life, but I often back track and lay in bed at night wondering what people think of me. Satan uses even my desire to share genuine faith as a torment for me to believe that this is what matters, whether people think I’m genuine!
It’s sounds a bit ridiculous, I know. So I rest in Truth.
“His praise is not from man but from God.”
God will do His work. His Spirit shines out whether my cover is dusty and struggling, “appears genuine”, or I’m having an all out good day. God’s praise is praise worthy. Men’s praise, man’s ideas of what I am or do or confess, not praiseworthy. In the words of Taylor Swift, “Shake it off.” Shake off what is outward, what people think and perceive of you. Focus on the heart, the One residing there. He is praiseworthy.
One day we will hear His praise of the life well lived in Him – “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 23:25) Be His Living Book. His is the praise that matters.
Discussion questions – What kind of praise and acclimation do you struggle with seeking? What praise or acclimation can you share about God’s work, 
a) as our savior on the cross and 
b) this work lived out in your life in the last week?

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