The problem with mirrors is they don’t show enough of the right thing. They are helpful to see if hair is where it belongs, everything is zipped that is supposed to be and bottoms match the holes. But they won’t allow you to see what other people see in you. Earlier today I was talking with one of the granddaugters about what people see in you. She made the comment that it would be interesting to know if what you think they see is what they really see.
Imagine getting with a gorup of people you are around on some regular basis and having each person make a list of ten characteristics they see in themselves and imagine that others can see in them. Then have each person make a similar list of what they see in each of the others. I recognize the problem in such an exercise already. Most of us wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so we wouldn’t put down the things that really bothered us about another person. I’m not saying we would lie about it. But we would tend to list the things that were most positive about the other person even when it wasn’t in the top ten things we think of.
When you look at Jesus life on earth it is interesting that he gave people honest insight into what he saw in them whether good or bad. He would say to Simon that what he confessed about Jesus wasn’t from man but God and that he was blessed for saying it and then turn around a few moments later when Peter tried to get on to Jesus for saying he was going to Jerusalem to be crucified and Jesus responded by saying, “Get behind me Satan. You don’t have your mind on the things of God but of men.” He referred to James and John as sons of thunder because of their temperment. His way of talking to the religious leaders of the time was about as straight and pointed as any words could be. He called them hypocrites and then backed it up with eight “woes” on them for things they did on a regular basis.
Now please don’t take this to be a recommendation to be rude, mean and hypercritical. We must earn the right to point out the negative in a person. Those who think they have the judgment of God in their head and must freely open it up and spill caustic remarks out on everyone they meet have no relation to Jesus by their actions. One who readily gives his life to save another person earns the right to correct.
In order to ever lovingly correct we must be people who generally offer praise and encouragement. Then the correction can be taken as an act of love through which one can learn and change and be a better person. Another mark that is important is that correction given in anger is seldom taken as a blessing. Too many of us can’t bring ourselves to say anything negative about another person until we are angry and then we say entirely too much.
After reading a book a few years ago on Caring Enough to Confront I kept thinking about the need for a sequil on Caring Enough not to Confront. To confront a person about something they can’t change isn’t caring but crude. Caring doesn’t run down the line of “Let me tell you what I think” but along the line of “Here are some things I wish someone would share with me.”
Some lessons that have come very hard for me are:
1. When I think we are close enough friends to be able to criticize we usually aren’t.
2. When we say if I were in your shoes I would want someone to say this to me, we probably aren’t telling the truth.
3. When we say our heart is pure on a topic, it likely isn’t.
4. When we say, “God being my witness” He is.
5. When we have to tell someone we love them and that is the reason we are saying this, it isn’t loving.
6. The golden rule isn’t to treat others the way they treat us but like we would like for them to treat us.
7. Just as we can’t see ourselves as others see us, we can’t see another person as they see themselves.
8. The place that is best to talk about both ourselves and what we see in others that needs to change is on our knees before God.
Where is that mirror again?