The Ultimate Purpose of Any Photograph

by | Oct 26, 2018 | Perspective | 4 comments

Not too long ago, I saw a picture that irked me.

It’s not that it was “evil”. It was just that it contained stuff that didn’t impress me as being “good”—morally upright, exuding the qualities of unquestionable integrity.

Stuff like this doesn’t always bother me. But for some reason, that day it did.

So I stopped everything I was doing and went to talk to God about it. “Why am I feeling this way?” “Why did this particular picture bother me the way it did?” “Should it have bothered me?”

I really took some time to think about it.

And God brought this thought to my mind. It’s kinda fun when God does that. Smile

Every picture is an invitation to think. To think about something.

As the viewer, I have the power to choose whether or not I decide to think about what that picture has invited me to think about, but, regardless of the temptation, we have the power to choose. God made us that way. Thankfully.


As a Christian, I know that there are different things that God knows are good or not-so-good for me. Merely seeing a picture that invites me to sin, or experiencing a temptation that invites me to sin, is not sin. But once I yield to that temptation, start desiring the things God hasn’t meant for me to desire, then it becomes sin. Thou shalt not covet, you know. God said that.

For me, merely seeing that picture was not sin. However, the “irksome” emotions I was feeling after seeing the picture was the battle inside of me to follow through, or not to follow through, with what that picture was inviting me to do. Inviting me to think about. To think about desires that could not be righteously fulfilled.

Which reminds me of what Adam and Eve must have been feeling in the perfect Garden of Eden.

God told them that they could eat fruit from every tree in the garden except for one. All of them! Except for one. Their desire for fruit wasn’t bad. It could be righteously fulfilled in who-knows-how-many beautiful, unique, exotic, delicious ways! And yet, that same desire for fruit became covetousness when its focus turned to that one type of fruit that God had said “No” to.


In the same way, God has given us incredible freedoms and joys in this world. And there is an abundance in Christ much greater than the Garden of Eden that God has led us into! And yet, God knew we needed to be told, “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.” Here on earth, we’re still human. If Adam and Eve could sin surrounded by the glorious perfection that they were in, well, so can we.

Which helps us to see the incredible value of God’s Word! It’s the way we can know what God likes or doesn’t like. What desires are good desires and what desires are not-so-good desires. What thoughts to recognize as uplifting, and what thoughts to recognize as deceitfully wicked. Our own brains can not help us decipher these things.

So, then, what do I do when I see a picture that bothers me?

Just remember, it’s inviting you to think. To think about something. And, thankfully, it’s your choice what you decide to think about! Don’t think about what you can’t have….think about what you do have! God’s boundless, indescribable, ever-present, never-ending presence! God’s awesome, pure, beautiful love for you! God’s amazing, perfect, got-it-all-worked-out-in-the-long-run plan for you! Draw nigh to God, and He will drawn nigh to you.


The ultimate purpose of any picture is to invite you to think about something. So, if any one of those bazillion things that a picture could invite you to think about happens to be inside the depressing circle of covetousness, well, never mind that. Let every picture be an invitation to think about what is truly Good!

And only in Christ do we have the power to do this.

“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:20).

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  1. Alyssa

    Amen. Thanks for the good reminders, James. 🙂

  2. Clara Johnson

    Thank you for sharing this, James. It was very thought-provoking for me. I appreciate your work so much!

  3. Cindy

    I found this post quite interesting. It reminded me of the day I was looking at magazines in the doctor’s waiting room and saw an article about an incredible kitchen renovation. The remodeled space was big and airy and beautiful, and the photos were just marvelous. Of course the rest of the publication was filled with amazing shots of other rooms that were decorated just so. Prices of various appliances and pieces of furniture (and where to order them) were listed beside each photo. When I walked into my own house later in the day, everything looked tired and drab; I felt dissatisfied with things I had been happy with just hours before. That was the moment when I realized that those magazines were not good for me. They were doing (to me) exactly what you described. I steer clear of them now and find it much easier to be content with what I have.


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