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Recognizing Yourself In the Mirror

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Recognizing Yourself In the Mirror

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Have you ever visited someone you care about and couldn’t wait to spend time with, but noticed by the end of your trip that certain things about them were really starting to irritate you? Perhaps they were being indecisive about where to go for dinner, and you suddenly found yourself thinking about every life decision they’d ever had a hard time making. Or maybe they were on their phone, and you found yourself criticizing the time they had wasted on social media (in your head, of course), even as you held your own phone. Within a short amount of time, it’s not difficult for us to notice others’ faults, often before we are ready or willing to see our own.

Not being able to see our own flaws is possibly the most detrimental character flaw we can have as human beings because it blinds us to even the most obvious and serious shortcomings. For example, in the scenario above, while annoyed by your loved one being indecisive and active on social media, perhaps you make an impulsive decision about what and where to eat, and then waste an hour making impatient comments about the waitress and complaining about how terrible the food tastes. Both are a reflection of poor decision-making and wasting of time, but it’s much easier to excuse and justify the ones we make ourselves. So how can we recognize our shortcomings and remove them from our lives?

True Reflections

The best mirror we can use to see what our character is like is the Bible, because it is capable of cutting through all of our false pretenses, double standards and excuses, if we read it with an open mind (Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
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). James said, “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 1:22-24 James 1:22-24 [22] But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. [23] For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a glass: [24] For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was.
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).

God’s Word lays out a perfect standard of justice, mercy and faith, which Jesus himself exemplified for us. Jesus obeyed the Commandments. He refrained from sin. But, He also did what was right. He visited the sick, took care of the poor and fed the hungry. He persuaded the adulterous woman to stand back on her feet and to “go and sin no more,” while the Pharisees stood by ready to condemn her (John 8:1-12 John 8:1-12 [1] Jesus went to the mount of Olives. [2] And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down, and taught them. [3] And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the middle, [4] They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. [5] Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you? [6] This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. [7] So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. [8] And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. [9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the middle. [10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you? [11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more. [12] Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
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). He was perfect in every way, yet willing to sacrifice everything to redeem humanity. His example of living the Word of God will cut through our denial, and show us what we are really made of, if we are willing to look into the mirror and examine our inner-most being. So take a few minutes or more a day and just read what God’s Word says, and then reflect on it, asking God to show you how it relates to your life.

No One's Perfect, So What's Your Excuse?

The Bible is a great tool because it shares incredible stories of individuals who both succeeded and failed at putting their faith into practice. Abraham, known as the father of the faithful, really messed up at times in his life. Probably the most prominent mistake he made was when he did not believe God would give him a son, so he had sexual relations with a woman besides his wife to start a family.

As much as we may want others to believe we’re awesome, our desire to do good will not always be strong enough to overpower those weak moments when our nature is to be destructive and selfish.

However, when God tested his character to see if Abraham would be willing to give up the legitimate son God gave him, Abraham didn’t hold back. Abraham had grown in his faith and obedience since his past mistake with Hagar, and God counted it as righteousness. The apostle James said, “You see that a person is justified by what he does [even after sinning] and not by faith alone” (James 2:21-24 James 2:21-24 [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar? [22] See you how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? [23] And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. [24] You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
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). It is how we respond to our failures that really matters to God. So when you fail—and find yourself back in the same position you’ve been in so many times before—don’t make excuses for yourself, but don’t give up either. Acknowledge your failures, and use them to motivate you to do better.

Someone Better Than You

Once our flaws are revealed to us by God in the Bible, we can move forward by spending time with an accountability partner: someone who is stronger in the places we are the weakest, and wiser where we are the most foolish (Proverbs 13:20 Proverbs 13:20He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
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). This is one reason why it is so important to become involved in the Church and develop our Christian community. I try to remind myself that there will always be someone better than me, which is a blessing! The apostle Paul asked that we “in humility consider others better than ourselves” and only “imitate him” as he imitated Christ (Philippians 2:3 Philippians 2:3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
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; 1 Corinthians 11:1 1 Corinthians 11:1Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
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). Even Paul knew he was not perfect, and that he had room to grow. So, it’s important that we observe, appreciate and imitate our role models (as they strive to imitate Christ) to become better people in the here and now. Seek out someone (or more than one person) who’s maybe a little older, a little wiser, and try to establish a relationship that you can build on to this end.

This also means we should appreciate the differences in each other. If we view others as people we can learn something from, and see their mistakes as slip-ups we are also capable of making, perhaps we’d all be more willing to recognize our own flaws and change for the better rather than focus on other people’s faults.

The harsh reality is that our nature is corrupted—it’s inherently sinful. As much as we may want others to believe we’re awesome, our desire to do good will not always be strong enough to overpower those weak moments when our nature is to be destructive and selfish. So let’s take responsibility for our shortcomings. Let’s accept the consequences of our actions like Abraham did. Let’s forgive, pray and do good for those who wronged us, as Jesus did. Let’s accept God’s help like the adulterous woman did. God will help you recognize your flaws by reflecting light on your life through His Word and through the living example of Jesus Christ. By the power of His Holy Spirit dwelling in His people, we can overcome our flaws and remove them from our lives.