The writer of Proverbs take some time throughout the book to remind us of the importance of living genuinely - showing our "real colors" vs. living with a "facade" in place. This is another of those verses that reminds us of the importance of not living a life that others would look upon and see only a pretense of happiness. Too many times, it is easy to hide behind what we want to portray to the world vs. being our real selves. This is because we interpret ourselves as unworthy of public display, not of value - so we create a facade to hide behind. This is a very dangerous place to be - live there long enough and you will forget what exists behind the facade!
We are reminded that a life that is pretentious (pretend, false, make-believe) is really an empty life. Empty lives do not contain what one would expect to find when examining those lives closely. Look upon an individual that has become skilled at the use of their "facade" of being spiritually and emotionally "all together" and you will usually find somebody as messed up as the rest of us! They have just become quite skilled of hiding behind the facade - all the while enduring their emptiness hidden deep within. God has placed us in the Body of Christ - the local church - to protect us from living empty, hidden lives. It is there that we are to be open, vulnerable, and real. Yet, so many Christians today find themselves unable to truly be who they are, even in church. Why?
Perhaps it is because society teaches us that it is best to "create an image", placing that on display for all to see. Or maybe we just don't feel comfortable being "real" with anyone because any time we have tried to be real in the past, we have been hurt or rejected. Regardless of the reasons for the pretense we display, it keeps us from growing as we really need to mature. It is not until the facade is removed - the pretenses are destroyed - that we are free to emerge as the person God created us to be.
The writer reminds us that a plain and simple life is a full life. If you are feeling like your life is pretty empty most of the time, you might ask yourself if you have been living behind some pretenses - displaying what is really keeping you in your place of emptiness. I am always impressed with an honest person - one who is willing to be who they really are - despite the flaws and imperfections of their character. When I see this kind of genuineness, I know that individual is well on the road to developing some tremendous spiritual character traits!
A plain life is marked by several things:
- No pretense - not needing to embellish the reality of what is hidden just beneath the surface. We all have pasts - each of us has been affected by them in different ways. We all have formed opinions of how that past makes us "appear" and have become skilled at covering up what we don't appreciate or fear exposing. God is asking us to expose it to him first, allowing him to gently turn the negative effect of our past into something in which he can display his glory and grace. In turn, he asks us to willingly display our "true self" to others - revealing his glory and grace for others who so desperately need to see how much he is capable of doing when given the access.
- Humble appreciation of God's grace - not an elaborate display of what we think that grace should look like in our lives - but the simple, unpretentious display of his love through us. When we are free to be who he has created us to be, his love becomes so evident in us that others are drawn to that love like bugs to a light! It has an "attracting" force that no spiritual facade could ever produce.
The next time you think your life is too plain or too simple - finding yourself tempted to mount some facade of pretense - STOP! The "real you" is the one God wants on display - it is the one that brings honor to his name and draws the weary outcast to his feet. It is not a "make over" we need - it is just a simple display of his grace that "makes over" what we spend so much time "concealing over". Be real! Really!