Becoming what you behold

November 23, 2009

“We become what we behold.” This is supposedly from John Piper, though Google has not helped me to confirm this. I do agree with the idea though, it’s more accurate to say that “We become like what we behold.” Watching violent movies and tv shows will influence your mind. Listening to sappy love songs, though it’s fun, will get you into trouble. Playing racing games will make you want to drive faster. Hanging out with nerds from Stanford will make you cooler. And so on.

But there is the other element to this that we may be subtly unaware of. Not only do we become like that which we behold, we also become like the image of how others view us. Sometimes the honest man will become a liar, when he is accused of lying. Sometimes the man who is seeking purity will falter when he is accused of debauchery. This is more evident to those who are introverts than extroverts. We introverts are enervated in the company of others. Why is that? The reason is we feel that we are not ourselves around even our loved ones. We are pushed and pulled from the center of our beings, by the tyranny of others. We can relate to the words of Sartre: “Hell is other people.” So we seek the time where we can be by ourselves, to think and look upon ourselves and find who we are. We do not feel the pressure to conform to the way we are viewed. Sometimes, however, when we are alone and look inside, we still don’t like what we see; we still don’t like who we are nor the person we have defined ourselves to be.

This is why we need Christ. When Christ is with us, we are not ruled by the opinions and perceptions of others, nor is our identity defined by ourselves. Instead, our identity is solely based upon how God sees us. Even when others think badly of me, or they forget that I exist, even when I see all this junk in my soul, or forget that I belong to the Kingdom, He still sees and knows who I am. Because when I close my eyes, He still sees me.

This then is the sanctification process: to become more fully, what we already are in His eyes. To know and see God, as we are already known and seen by Him. Not only must we direct our gaze to Him, but we almost also constantly remember the One who beholds us. We are the beholden – we are under His loving, quick-eyed gaze. In any trials and tribulations you go through, remember that He is watching you and watching over you.

We must also not let the opinions of others affect who we are and how we live. Does someone accuse you of wrong doing without any knowledge of you? Do they feign discipline without the slightest dose of love and regard for you or the church? Ignore their accusations – for all such accusations are of Satan. Does it come from within the church? Shake it off – sheep bites hurt, but will not kill you. Instead, reconcile and love them. Does it come from outside the church? Find refuge in the bosom of Christ, and follow the example of Christ in loving your enemies.

Finally, this means that we, as Christians, as little-Christs, must behold each other as how God beholds us. We are now to view each other as more fairer than ourselves. In doing so, we encourage and spur one another to love and good deeds. In doing this we remind each other the way we are viewed by Christ Himself. Like Christina and Mercy in Pilgrims Progress when they behold each other after the bath, we must cry to one another “Thou art more fairer than I.” We must love another and hold each other in high regard, even those whose faith are weak. For the spiritually lame and wounded such as Mr. Ready-to-Halt will one day say “Now I shall have no more need of these crutches; since yonder are chariots and horses for me to ride on. Welcome, life!”


One Response to “Becoming what you behold”

  1. David Says:

    In reference to “We become what we behold” being something from John Piper, instead of searching in Google I suggest you simply do a search at the website (where the text of Piper’s almost 30 years of ministry resides).

    I did and saw that Piper has taught that, whether the exact wording is original to him or not. I believe he takes it primarily from 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

    This is the link to my search:


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