Take a Good Look in the Mirror – Is Your Reflection a Picture of Love?
Attention, married couples! When your spouse thinks of you, what is the first word that comes to their mind?
Happy? Stingy? Thoughtful? Grumpy? Loyal? Sweet? Mean?
Horny? (Hey – JUST US will always keep it real.)
Maybe one of those is the first word. But when that word settles, and those first few thoughts come to mind – every spouse should settle in on a Picture of Love for their mate. Whether you’re in a good, bad, or in-between season of your marriage, the portrait of them hanging in your mind should be positive, with nice lighting and a sturdy frame.
What about your larger family, your friends, or the people you work alongside? What about me? If I come across you on a bad day, will I encounter a person who hardly resembles the man or woman I know on a good day?
If we call ourselves Christians and seek to live out the standards that Jesus set for us, what others “see” should be a picture of love.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35 (NIV).
I submit to you that in refashioning us and making us over, Jesus wants us to display the same quality character “yesterday, today, and forever.”
And how about me, the man looking back at me in my own mirror? Am I a picture of love?
But sometimes I’m grumpy, distracted, and more interested in my own fulfillment and satisfaction than that of those closest to me.
There are times when my workplace had done a number on me - absolutely kicked my butt! But when I arrive home - my sanctuary - I try and shake that off. Yes, the struggle is real - but so is the Holy Spirit. As my guide, He declares victory for me as a son of the living God. And I’d rather my family not fall victim to frustrations that should be left at the office.
No matter what is thrown at us, we should endeavor to be pictures of love amidst the chaos.
Our fellow Christians need to see it – and so does the world around us!
So, what EXACTLY does that picture look like?
Well, what I have learned is that the Golden Rule is key – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Those are the words of the Lord Jesus as recorded in Matthew 7:12.
For those who remember the phonograph disc records of yesteryear, the Golden Rule is the popular “A” side that everybody knows. What Christian maturity has taught me is that there is a “B” side to that record. And that one is really hard to handle at times. Because the B side says that they don’t have to treat you the same way back! And they often do not!
On the contrary, I can get “dissed” and “dismissed.” But when I report to the Captain of my Soul, the fact that their bad behavior “made me do it” is not an acceptable excuse. He won’t agree with me that if they roughed me up, then I have every right to rough them up too. That’s a tough lesson to learn but it’s vital to the development of a Christ-follower. No matter what’s going on with them, as a servant of Christ, I have a responsibility to Him.
Let me hasten to add – that DOES NOT MEAN that Jesus is commanding us to be a doormat. Absolutely not! But we are to be a doorway, and we can overcome their evil with our goodness.
In the end, Jesus wins. Every time.
Sometimes, it’s good to simply contemplate the pictures of love in our lives. We can get overwhelmed by all the “mess” going on – but there is still incredible beauty in this big world that God has given us dominion over!
Vanessa and I have a precious couple friend in in a neighboring city and we have been “life escorts” for each other for more than two decades.
We have borne each other’s burdens through cancer, through one son’s paralysis, through job loss, through losing people close to us, through joys and sorrows.
They have a son who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia years ago. Like the thief the devil is, this horrible affliction came without warning into the life of this wonderful, handsome young man: bright, godly, very intelligent with a joy of the Lord and a promising career ahead of him.
That was nearly two decades ago and he’s now over 40. Through no fault of his own, he and his family have endured so much: countless sedations, drug regimens, hospitalizations and so much disappointment. His reliance on them is almost total. Yet they remain Kingdom-minded lovers of people, still giving, still caring for others.
We keep them close in our prayers. These parents’ faithfulness to their adult son is truly an inspiration. We were in their beautiful home a number of years back and at bedtime, we witnessed the mother walk into their son’s bedroom and kneel at his bedside to pray with him before he slept. And she still does it - to this day.
That picture of love has never left me - and it never will.
What about you – can you pull up some pictures of love in your life? For me, it’s sometimes a beautiful sunrise or an amazing sunset; sometimes it’s hearing my wife on the phone laughing and having fun with her 85-year-old mother, giggling like schoolgirls at something silly; sometimes it’s being with her and our three sons just enjoying one another’s company; sometimes it’s seeing a couple talking – really talking – to one another at one of our JUST US retreats.
This world comes with lots of challenges. But through Jesus Christ, victory is ours, and we must not forget that. We sometimes walk around like we are defeated – we are not! And the world needs to see and experience who we are and what we offer.
Who we are and what we offer should be a picture of love!
One final reminder: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:46-48, NIV.