Rev. Sudha Mehta©
Squaw Photo on Pixabey
I like mirrors. They are all around my home, and I even carry one in my purse to check my lipstick when I am out. I even use it to check for and remove that aberrant piece of food stuck in my teeth if I am at a restaurant. I would find it terribly embarrassing if I smiled with a chunk of spinach sticking in my teeth. I am sure you would agree! Mirrors serve me well as they bring me back to reality every time!
I sat for a portrait once. the artist came well recommended so I decided to have my own portrait done. Well, at the “big reveal,” I discovered the woman on the canvas looked very much like a Native American woman. In short, on canvas, I was a Squaw!!!!!! I could have doubled over laughing, but I paid good money for this. The picture was absolutely lovely, but it wasn’t me!
When I asked the artist “Why?” She said that is how she saw me! A little nine year old neighbor boy said I looked like an Indian princess in the picture, and then asked if my husband wore paint every morning to work!!
My husband and my children asked where I purchased the painting and what drew me to it. They did not recognize me in it at all. One look in the mirror said, “NOT ME!”
Mirrors are so good at grounding us if we let them. I had to look in the mirror several times to try and see what feature the artist saw on my face that said this rendering was anything like me. I couldn’t find it.
Today some strangers have the painting for whatever they paid a local auctioneer!
Then, a few days ago over Christmas a friend took a picture of me as I sat in casual attire and no makeup with the family. She then went to work on an app on the phone. In less than a couple of minutes she showed me the finished product.
I looked fantastic! I wish I could say she made me look ten years younger, but it was more than that. She de-aged me and more! I looked about three decades younger . . . on top of that she changed my eye color to a steel blue, arched my eyebrows, and even put on wonderful makeup and styled my hair very nicely.
It was delightful! I totally looked like Linda Carter in her role of Wonder Woman. That dates me, I know! This app was amazing! Then she showed me the real picture she took. 😒 Talk about disappointment! One look in the mirror set me straight. The mirror said I looked very much like the unmodified photo.
Photo on Google
Today I want to speak with you about vanity. Is it just me or can we agree that we are all getting too self-obsessed?! Every time I think we have reached the cusp of how much we all can be about the “self,” I find evidence to the contrary.
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com
We are the “Selfie” Generation . . . we are the “I-LOVE-ME Generation” that loves to celebrate “ME” above all. Everywhere I turn someone is trying to sell me stuff that will make a new improved version of me. Most magazines would have me believe at my age I am still capable of looking like a seventeen year old if I just wear the right makeup or clothes. How I look is so important that my character matters little. I simply must look good!
Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not a frumpy woman, and I think I look very good for my age, and want to! I like my clothes, my jewelry and purses and oh yes . . . my shoes. I even like my hats! There is nothing wrong with looking good. My mother taught me to look and behave as a lady, and money was not the make-or-break issue. My parents left Pakistan with very little and even then, when mommy stepped out of the house she looked great and she carried herself regally. She taught me that! She made a lot out of very little and taught us dignity and grace. Not false pride! Not vanity! Mommy would remind us repeatedly that the outer beauty will fade, but the inner loveliness of character must blossom ever nicer, regardless of age!
I would go as far as to say we Christians should look our best as we represent our God. There is no need for false humility that says “Frump is Humble.” It is not! My Heavenly Father provides well for me and I take care of myself in all things including my diet, exercise, appearance, my walk AND my talk. I am an ambassador of CHRIST in every way!
Consider this: If I am an object of my own adoration, I have made myself a little god! Instead of making gods of ourselves with our selfies, I wish we would focus on our character. I wonder if I took a picture of the real unseen (spirit me) me . . . what would I look like? Would that match the reflection in the mirror?
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com
Romans 8: 29a For whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son . . . (ASV)
Romans 12: 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you.(ISV)
Note that with God it is not how I appear on the outside, it is the condition of the inside. I am called to be transformed to look like His Son on the inside. I am called to a transformation of character, so that each passing day, I look more and more like Him. I am not called to please the outer me and to worship myself, I am called to worship the One who created me, and called me to be like Him.
Proverbs 29:23 A person’s pride will bring about his downfall, but the humble in spirit will gain honor.(ISV)
Proverbs 11: 2 When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.(BSB)
I can take all my selfies, but in so doing if all I do is promote myself in pride, it goes no where. I am not created by God to be self-entered, but other-centered.
My students often hear me repeat: “God is after your heart!”
Exodus 20: 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens above, on the earth beneath, or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing loving devotion to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.(BSB)
I hope you read the above passage and think on it. He said we are not to have any other gods or bow to idols. What He is asking for is humble, single-hearted devotion to only Him, and that leaves no room for self-adoration. The blessing that follows is made clear along with the punishment that follows disobedience.
Instead of my exalting myself, by what I see in the mirror, I need to humble myself before Him:
1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (NASB)
He will exalt me! What an exciting thought! I don’t have to beat my own drum, blow my own trumpet! When I walk humbly before God, He lifts me up in the sight of men at the right time, and gives me honor to do the task appointed me!!
Finally, know this:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.(BLT)
These are the character building qualities God wants to see in you. These are the things that show evidence of noble character. These are the qualities that will grow more beautiful with age even when the outer beauty fades away. Now I can live with that! Can you?!
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