I remember as a child walking through the funhouse at our local fairgrounds and looking at myself in the carnival mirrors. Everything was distorted. Depending how these mirrors were curved, they either made me look thin, fat, short or tall. Some even made it appear as if parts of me were missing. Spiritually speaking, I think we like to look at ourselves in carnival mirrors because they distort reality. They fail to reveal our sins. Are we afraid to take an honest look in a real mirror? Please read more.
Perhaps you remember the evil queen’s words from Snow White, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” At first, the mirror replied, “Thou, O Queen, art the fairest in the land,” Then one day, the mirror told the queen that Snow White was the fairest of them all. When confronted with reality, the Queen grew furious. Unlike a carnival mirror, there was no distortion. How do we handle the truth in our mirror?
From time to time, we need to look in the mirror and do an honest evaluation. When we do, we should not compare ourselves to others. Notice in Luke 18:9-14 that the Pharisee was prideful and compared himself to others. The tax collector, on the other hand, was humble, contrite, and said, “Have mercy on me a sinner.”
God is quick to forgive those who acknowledge their mistakes and repent. You could say that the tax collector was willing to stand naked before God, but the Pharisee needed to cover up the truth with a fig leaf.
Jesus wants us to recognize the truth of our weaknesses and acknowledge our need for help, healing, and salvation. It has been written, “Blessed are those who recognize their evil desires and, with a penitent and humiliated heart, stand before God and humanity, not as one of the righteous, but as a sinner.” Are we prepared to do this?
Are we prepared to humble ourselves? Paul was, when in 1 Timothy 1:15 he said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.” Peter was too, when in Luke 5:8 he said to Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Spiritually speaking, we need to be honest, humble and stand naked before God. After all, nothing is hidden from God. In Hebrews 4:12 we read, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” In Luke 12:2-3 we also read, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light.”
We all have our dark side. We have all sinned. Too often we try to hide our sins from others, from ourselves and we even try to hide them from God. We must stop doing this. Ephesians 5:6-20 tells us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” It continues by telling us, “everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Jesus is the light that illuminates our sins, so we can acknowledge them and receive His forgiveness.
Numbers 21:4-9 gives us the story about the Israelites speaking against God and against Moses. When they did, God sent poisonous serpents among them. The serpents bit the people and they died. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” The serpent was a symbol of their sinfulness. When they looked honestly at their own sinful actions, they found healing.
In John 3:14-21, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” In a spiritual sense, the cross is a mirror. In it, we see our sins.
The cross forces us to acknowledge our failures and shortcomings. But we also see something more. We recognize that Jesus bore our sins on the cross. We gaze at the crucified Christ and see our salvation. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Most of those carnival mirrors have disappeared. We no longer have them to distort reality. Spiritually speaking, we need to throw away our carnival mirrors and accept the reality that we are sinners in need of being saved. We can look with honesty in our mirror knowing that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but rather that we might be saved through Him.
It can be hard to acknowledge our sinfulness, especially if we are active and involved Christians, but we must. Pope Francis was once asked, “What would you say to someone who doesn’t feel like a sinner?” He said, “I would advise him to ask for the grace of feeling like one.” He went on to say, “The repentant sinner, who sins again and again because of his weakness, will find forgiveness if he acknowledges his need for mercy.”
Carnival mirrors distorted reality. Likewise, some Israelites looked at the serpent and only saw a serpent on a pole. Others realized they were looking at a symbol of their own rebellion. Some gazed at Jesus on the cross and saw a false dead prophet. Others saw the Son of God, and they knew that their sins had nailed Him to that cross. Those that did, were raised to life with Him on the third day.
Heavenly Father, give me the courage to admit my sins. When I look in the mirror, reveal in me everything that is displeasing to you, and help me to change my ways. Draw me closer to you Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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