Sunday, January 15, 2012

Looking In the Mirror

Examine yourselves [as to] whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.
2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV

When someone makes the decision to embark on a fitness plan, it is usually a result of arriving at the conclusion that they are unhappy with the way they look. There may be many different reasons for someone to look the way they do, but most everyone who decides a change is necessary makes that decision based on the same method of evaluation; they look in the mirror.

We live in a society which places all too much emphasis on physical appearance, and there are stories in the news all the time of the dangers we face when those concerns become an obsession. Yet there is certainly a benefit to each of us to be concerned with our physical health, and it is important for each of us to be aware of what we need to do in order to optimize our health.

There is something, however, that I have found over the years to be true in many believers lives, and that is the unwillingness to honestly examine one's spiritual fitness. It would seem that in a world where physical fitness and appearance is so highly regarded, you would think believers would understand where spiritual fitness and appearance should be even more important, yet many have no idea what is expected of them or what their goals should be.

I have said before that Paul's letters are some of my most favorite books of the Bible for the simple fact that he very often describes the life we are to live in terms of physical efforts. Words such as running, race, struggle, lifting, carrying, etc. are found in each of his letters. As far as knowing what our goal should be as believers, the book of Romans is a great study in understanding where God wants us to go.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 8:28-29 NKJV

This is one of those verses that is often misunderstood and misused to try and explain the question of election. In truth, it has nothing to do with that subject at all. Paul deals with that in the next chapter but here, what Paul is telling us is really very simple. Paul is saying that God knew before the world began that people would choose to follow Him. (foreknew) God then determined that the goal of those who made that choice would be to conform to the character of Christ. (predestined) Now that we know what God expects of us, the question becomes; “do you look in the mirror of your life to see if you reflect the character of Christ?”

I rather doubt there is anyone who does not look at themselves in the mirror at least once a day. Truth be told, I imagine there are quite a few who look in the mirror a lot more than once a day. So how often in a day do you look in the spiritual mirror to see if you are reflecting the character of Christ? Honestly, I'm embarassed to see the answer to that question in my own life. I have a feeling we all have a checklist of things we do about our appearance before we leave the house every morning, and looking in the mirror is quite possibly the last thing you do before you leave.

Do you have a spiritual checklist? Each of us should look in the mirror and make a list of how we can best reflect the character of Christ in our own lives each and every day. Let me share mine with you in the hope you will find something there to help you with your own.

Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is [the] first and great commandment. "And [the] second [is] like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV

As we discussed last week, the very first thing we should do as we awaken every day is pray. I have made it a habit to roll out of bed and onto my knees in order to thank the Lord for another day and to tell Him how much I love Him. I then ask for help to show my love for Him by loving others in such a way as to give Him the glory.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Do you look in your spiritual mirror? If so, these are the things you should see in your reflection. If we are allowing God to control our hearts and minds, these are the things that the world should see when they look at us. We should all make a habit to examine our thoughts and actions all day long in light of this list of the fruits of the Spirit.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:2 NKJV

The idea behind the word conform is to fashion yourself, or pattern yourself after someone else. As believers, our desire should be to pattern or imitate the life of Jesus. We are told this is accomplished by the renewing of our minds, and the word for renewing describes a complete change from what we previously were. When you look in the mirror do you see a total and complete change from what you used to be or are you still the same person you always have been? Do your actions bring glory to God? Does your language reflect God's image or the worlds? Slow to anger, letting no unwholesome word come out of your mouth? Do you have the courage to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about what you see?

When you decide to start a physical fitness program you first look in the mirror and set goals for how you want to transform your physical appearance. As believers, our desire should be to look in the mirror and be honest about our spiritual appearance and identify our shortcomings. We should then go about the business of transforming ourselves into the image of our Savior, so that the world will see His reflection when they look at us. As believers we should all look in the spiritual mirror constantly to be sure we are conforming to His image, and not the image of the world.

Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but [that] we may receive a full reward.
2 John 1:8 NKJV

Keep watching.