“Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest one of all?”
Memorable words from a memorable villain!
The irony is that the Queen in Snow White’s story may have been rockin’-ly gorgeous outwardly, but inwardly, her heart was as ugly and black as the garment in which she disguised herself, and as twisted as the face she hid behind when giving Snow White the apple.
Hold that thought.
I experienced quite a shock during my recent vacation. While I was writing the previous article as I “rested” (yeah…vacation…right!) I happen to look at the wall to my left. The entire dining room wall is one BIG mirror.
I immediately noticed how tan I had become in such a short time. Hooray for genetics! As I admired my reflection, my gaze traveled down my image to embrace my full glory and revel in the gloating I would soon be able to indulge in when I returned home. It was wonderful.
Until I saw it.
My big, fat gut.
There’s a meme floating around the internet that says, “I have the body of a god. Buddha, that is.”
Sounds about right. I couldn’t escape it. There was my flesh hanging out in all it’s, er, glory. Right over my belt. Ringing my waist like an oversized truck tire on a compact car.
At first, I was shocked. “You mean I’m trying to cram all that into a swimsuit and everyone sees it but me?” Yup.
But when I’m in my swimsuit and look in the mirror, I don’t look so bloated. Well, truthfully, I do! The problem is I’ve become accustomed to kidding myself. My mental image of myself is far different than the truth. I purposefully don’t see the fullness of my “glory.”
Okay, more personal sharing time. I’ve always struggled with my weight. While my older brother and younger sister were quite trim throughout their youth and adult years, I was quite, shall we say, fluffy. I didn’t learn the meaning of the word svelte until much later in life.
My mom would reassure me I wasn’t “fat.” I was just “husky.” Right. I soon learned “husky” was the nice way of putting it. “No honey, you’re not fat. You’re just husky,” still rings in my ears.
No, truth be told, I’m fat. Overweight. Zaftig. Big-boned. Chunky. A dad body long before I was a dad. Obeast.
You get the picture.
By the way, I’m not picking on overweight people. Believe me, I sympathize with you, big-time (pun intended). We’re all in this boat together…and it’s in danger of sinking. (Just a little humor, folks. Lighten up.) I’m picking on myself.
My point is that my shock at seeing myself more clearly came from a true reflection and seeing myself from the side. In other words, from a different perspective.
The mirror doesn’t lie.
And it didn’t to the Queen either.
Snow White was a genuinely beautiful person according to the story. The truth of her fair beauty brought forth by the mirror’s inability to lie shocked the Queen. The truth was finally out and from a different perspective – the mirror’s perspective. She finally realized she was not as supremely perfect as she thought.
This kind of shocking self-revelation prompts action. Sadly for Snow White, it became the Queen’s attempt to eliminate her. As I see it, there was another option for the Queen. She could work on herself instead. But no! She just had to go after her competition.
Like the Queen, I had that shocking revelation from the mirror’s perspective and truthful reflection. I had finally come to grips with the fact that I had long been kidding myself about my body. And it led me to action.
For the rest of the vacation, my wife and I decided to walk every evening. Our route took us about an hour. I didn’t change my eating habits. I just walked. And lo and behold, by the time we left Florida (two weeks later) I had to take my belt in TWO notches! Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! I CAN do this! I just had to face the truth, keep looking at myself from a non-biased perspective, and take action.
And here’s your spiritual truth for today, dear reader.
There’s a far more accurate mirror that goes way beyond physical appearance. It reflects the depths far inside our physical being. As disgusted as I was about how “husky” I had become, what’s even more disgusting is what this “mirror” reveals to me about me as a person. Sometimes, it ain’t so pretty.
This mirror is God’s word.
It’s a remarkable mirror because it’s the mirror of the Great King and it’s more alive and revealing than the Queen’s mirror.
God’s word is alive because the Author is alive, “For the word of God is living and active…” (Hebrews 4:12)
It has the ability to cut through our self-talk illusions, “…sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
And it has the ability to reveal the inescapable truth, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer” (Hebrews 4:13).
God’s word reveals who we are in God’s sight. David wrote, “Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it” (Psalm 139:1-6).
Did you get all that? He knows our most minuscule thoughts “from far away”! He totally knows our ways. He knows what we’re going to do before we do it. And what God knows about us is totally beyond our knowing!
Now that’s a mirror!
The kind of things the Mirror of the Great King reflects are our spiritual condition, our self-perception, our character, and our integrity.
As for our spiritual condition, God’s Mirror tells us we are completely and utterly warped and separated from Him. The Bible calls that being dead to God (Ephesian 2:1, 5).
As for our self-perception, we easily think, “I’m not so bad.” Oh yeah? You mean like me saying, “I’m not so fat?” God begs to differ. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12). We think we’re alive when all we are is the walking dead. We all get very comfortable with our self-deception. But our self-image is often far different than the truth. God is the God of truth and He doesn’t hesitate revealing it to those willing to see it.
As for our character, we think we’re solid. We Christians often think we’re noshing on the fruit of the Spirit daily. You know, that “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” stuff (Galatians 5:22-23).
Oh, but then we take that sideways look in the mirror, and to our dismay we see the effects of a spiritual junk food diet, the flesh, hanging out all over! “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar” (Galatians 5:19-21). What’s challenging about this is the works of the flesh are both outward actions and inward thoughts and attitudes.
What bloated and blind people we can be! And all of it is as hard to get rid of as a spare tire around our waist.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Now for the big hit. Integrity. Does the outside match the inside? We may look spiritually fit on the outside and be spiritually pfft! on the inside. That’s a lack of integrity. Integrity is being inwardly what we’re projecting outwardly. Integrity is being in public what we are in private.
When God reveals the truth though, don’t despair! I could have comforted myself with some goodies from the fridge, but exactly how would that help? We can try to comfort ourselves with worldly pleasures, but how does that help us change inside?
Our goal is to lose the “flesh” both outwardly and inwardly. How do we do that?
Let the truth of what God reveals spur us to action! First, we need to be brave and ask for help. Take a cue from King David as he looked into God’s mirror, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Then adjust your walk.
Just as I adjusted my walk both in length of time and intensity and lost weight, so we can adjust our time and intensity of walking with God. In doing so, will we find ourselves toning up and slimming down, spiritually speaking. Our spiritual muscles grow as the “fleshly” fat goes. Believe me, I speak from experience!
And as we get more spiritually fit, we can take life with God in a notch.
The great news is we don’t have to do it alone! Our Heavenly Father has given the Holy Spirit to be our dresser. No, not the piece of furniture! A dresser is an assistant who helps another get dressed. The Holy Spirit clothes us in Jesus’ robes of righteousness and then tailors us to fit that robe until what is reflected in God’s mirror matches God’s image for us.
Looking in the mirror as I did is not much fun, but look we must. To reflect God’s image, we need to see where we fall short. That’s revealed clearly when we look deep into the Great King’s mirror. Yes, He will show us reality, but be strong! Trust that God wants us to change, has done everything to help us change, and will bring that change to completion (Philippians 1:6).
And in the resurrection, I’ll get the upgraded lean, mean, Body 2.0! Yessssssss!
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts