In one of our first morning devotional times of the new school year, I shared an object lesson with my 7th and 8th grade homeroom students using a picture of my husband that I keep in a very special frame on my desk at school. The picture is, of course, just an image of the man I love; it is not actually him. However, if I were to tear the picture in half or throw it in the trash, one might wonder if things are okay between the two of us - and rightfully so. If he were to come to my classroom and see the picture ripped in pieces or the frame tossed to the floor with the glass broken, he would likely wonder the same thing. He might even be hurt - or offended - by what he sees. But why? I didn't do anything to him. I didn't do anything to physically hurt him; it was just a picture - an image of him.
But the truth is, the way I treat that image is a reflection of how I feel about my husband.
I wouldn't want to hurt him, so I wouldn't hurt the photograph I have of him either. As a matter of fact, I display it in a beautiful frame that is very valuable to me because it was a gift from one of my students. I keep the framed picture in a prominent place where I can enjoy it throughout my busy day at school. I love him, and so I treasure the picture because it is a reflection of him.
Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
We are each, in our own special and unique way, a picture of God. A photograph. An image. I am his image. You are his image. That neighbor who gets on my last nerve is his image. Every last one of us. One way I can show God how much I love him is by treating with care and respect the pictures of him that are all around me.
I have opportunities every day, everywhere I go.
If I intentionally hurt someone, or tear someone down with my words, or speak evil of someone who was created in God's image, I am not only devaluing that person, I am also sending a message to the one in whose image he or she was created. I hurt God when I hurt others. In the same way, if I speak life to my friend, if I am gentle and loving to my neighbor, and if I give a place of honor to those around me, I am showing my love for God. As I respect and honor others, I am really respecting and honoring the one whose image they reflect.
1 John 4:20 says, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar (OUCH!). For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen."
Let's try to remember today and every day to show God how much we love him by showing kindness, love, respect, and honor to each other.