Their photograph flatters them!
(J. R. Miller, "What God Thinks of Us" 1909)
One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves, is what God thinks of us.
One has pointed out that in every man, there are four different men:
the man whom the neighbors see,
the man whom one's family sees,
the man whom the person himself sees,
and the man whom God sees.
The community knows us only in a general way, superficially. What people think of us, we sometimes call 'reputation'—what we are reputed to be. It is a composite made up of all that people know about us, gathered from our conduct, our acts, our dispositions, our words, the impressions of ourselves we give to others.
The knowledge the community has of a man, is only superficial. It is evident that the world's opinion about people is not infallible, is not complete, is not final.
A person may be better than his reputation; his external manner may do him injustice. Some men, by reason of their shyness, their awkwardness, or some limitation in power of expression, fail to appear at their true value. The world knows only a man's outward life, and there may be good things in him which it does not know.
Then some people, on the other hand, are worse than their reputation. Their photograph flatters them! What they pretend to be—exceeds the reality. They practice tricks which give a glamour to their lives, so that they pass in public for more than they are. They wear veils, which hide defects and faults in them, and thus they seem better than they are.
Hence we cannot accept the judgment of the community, regarding anyone—as absolutely true, fair, and final.
But there is another man in us—the man GOD sees. And this is most important of all. We do not even know all the secret things of our own hearts. There is an Eye that sees deeper than ours! It is pleasant to have people commend us, when we have tried to do our duty. It gives us great joy to have the approval of our own hearts. But if we do not have the commendation of the Master, human praise and self-approval amount to nothing! "What does God think of me?" is always the final question.
Men are cruel. They judge often harshly. They know only part of the truth concerning us. They are not patient with our infirmities. But we are safe in the hands of God. He knows the worst in us—but He also knows the best. We may trust our lives, therefore, to God's judgment, even if they are full of defects and flaws. He knows all, and will bring to light all the hidden things.