Because I don’t have a neck like an ostrich, there are some parts of me that I can’t see without help. That makes me grateful for mirrors when situations arise that require a look at those hidden areas. I don’t mind looking at a few of the more familiar parts, like my face, but I’m very content not to subject myself to an unveiled look at the majority of my external surface area … at least not with the lights on. My dermatologist once had the audacity to suggest that I make a regular practice of getting in front of a mirror and performing a complete examination myself. I figured it was her way of passing the buck because she didn’t want to have to look at a sight like that either.
Mirrors are Powerful ~
Though their impact may be subtle, mirrors have unavoidable influence on how we think and feel. The image they transmit back to us can shift our attitudes in either a positive or negative direction. Some researchers, for instance, discovered that those who are younger and healthier generally feel more positive about themselves when they exercise in front of a mirror. People a few decades older who show the physical indications of a more sedentary lifestyle tend to feel more negative when exercising in front of a mirror. Personally, I can feel positively uplifted by successfully avoiding all of it — the researchers, the mirrors, and the exercise.
Even though I realize that the images mirrors reflect are thoroughly unbiased and impersonal, I have harbored a long-standing opinion in my heart that mirrors secretly hate me. To put it in perspective, if I were Donald Trump, mirrors in general would represent the mainstream media, and the unavoidable ones lurking around our house would be like CNN. They all find something wrong with me no matter what I do.
When New Year’s Day approaches, mirrors become the recipients of “more than usual” attention. Millions will enlist their aid to check out how those new Christmas additions to their fashion wardrobe look, once they take them out of the box and actually put them on. Many will groan in despair or scream in shock and disgust when they discover that the size charts were somehow mysteriously altered somewhere between Halloween and Christmas. What was once a comfortable “medium” had shrunk to some strange size that ought to be prefaced by the word, “skinny.”
The Warfare Begins!
Images that our cruelly unbiased mirrors deliver this time of year will prompt the utterance of profound condemnations of holiday goodies that are only caloric atrocities in disguise. Vows to retaliate will be made, while war is declared against belly fat, junk food, flab in any form, and even our beloved recliners. Terrorist organizations like Krispy Kreme, Papa John’s, and Biscuit World will be publicly disavowed with the seriousness of an international war crimes tribunal. The mirrors have spoken. Their message cannot and will not be ignored–at least not until mid-January or so.
Regardless of the distress they often cause, mirrors are a good thing, and we happen to live at a time in human history when our scientific advancements and manufacturing expertise have refined them into precision instruments. That’s important in a culture like ours where external appearance has become a national obsession. But as much as we cherish them, our mirrors generally see more frowns looking back at them than smiles. That’s because we approach them with a critical attitude. Our objective is to zero in on what doesn’t measure up. Then we do whatever we can to make it look acceptable–apply a little more makeup, grab the hairspray, change that shirt, or just chuck it all and call in sick. After all, looking good is primary, because looking good is what it takes to be acceptable.
God Looks Deeper ~
God is concerned about us being acceptable, too, but His idea of acceptability has nothing to do with meeting the standards set by the popular culture. For that reason, He’s given us a different kind of “mirror,” one that enables us to “see” ourselves like He sees us. In simple terms, that mirror is the Word of God–that composite revelation of what is and is not acceptable to Him. But having His “mirror” does us no good at all if we fail to use it only to identify what to cover up, or if we ignore what it reveals to us altogether. James had something to say about our use of that spiritual mirror.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:21-24 (NKJV)
It’s not enough to simply recognize the problems that God’s mirror unveils for us. Something else must be done, because mirrors can’t fix any of those problem issues that they enable us to identify. Nobody breaks off a piece of the mirror and starts scraping his or her face to get the dirt off. Mirrors aren’t made for that. In the same way, the standards and judgments of God regarding our attitudes and behaviors can only point out what isn’t acceptable. Correcting the problems those judgments reveal requires something else entirely.
Something Else Is Required ~
The “Law of God” can point out our sins, but making us acceptable to God requires the application of a personal act of faith. It requires believing what God’s “mirror” reveals about us and honestly confessing our sins. It requires personally accepting Jesus as Lord of our life. In that simple act, the blood that He vicariously shed for us on the cross cleanses everything and makes us acceptable to God forever.
God’s concern for us as we enter this new year is not just that we “look” good, but that we “are” good. He’s not content to just cover up our moral and ethical problems or to simply point them out. He wants this year to be the best we ever had, and He wants us to be the best we’re capable of being — and He’s given us all we need to be that.
To all our treasured readers, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2019 be your most fulfilling year ever.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “God’s idea of acceptability has nothing to do with meeting the standards set by the popular culture.” Gallagher’s Pen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The standards and judgments of God regarding our attitudes and behaviors can only point out what isn’t acceptable. Correcting the problems those judgments reveal requires something else entirely.” Gallagher’s Pen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The “Law of God” can point out our sins, but making us acceptable to God requires the application of a personal act of faith.” Gallagher’s Pen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The “Law of God” requires personally accepting Jesus as Lord of our life. In that simple act, the blood that He vicariously shed for us on the cross cleanses everything and makes us acceptable to God . . . forever.” Gallagher’s Pen (Click here to Tweet)