Mirror, Mirror

Proverb 27: 19

As in water a face reflects the face, so the heart of a person reflects the person.

So true, right? We all have faces we wear. There is the work face, the play face, the family face, etc. Different facets of our personality and character are revealed in different situations. Sometimes we wear masks as well, even hiding our true selves from ourselves. However, the true character of a person is revealed in the heart. The NIV Bible says, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” If the heart reflects the character of a person and one’s life reflects one’s heart then we can know the character of a person by the patterns of their life.

We are not supposed to judge people. That means that we don’t say for them whether their lives are right or wrong or determine their position in the Kingdom of God. We do make functional judgments for our own lives, though, and those determinations advise us on those things and people which affect our lives. So, Solomon does expect us to act wisely in whom we trust and rely upon. Who is the fool when we trust a person whose life doesn’t demonstrate good character?

When we enter this discussion, it is easy to think about people with large character flaws. I don’t think that is the real subject of conversation. The real discussion is about people who look cleaned up on the outside, seem to be okay and perhaps even profess to be Christians. People with big flaws are obvious. It is the person who talks a good game and whose mask is firmly attached that we must be mindful of. They say the right things and pretend, really well, but upon closer inspection, their lives reveal their true heart.

One of the factors that is a dead giveaway is how giving they are. Do they spend most of their money and resources on more stuff for themselves? Are they charitable to their own family? Do they support the church, charities? Second, do they do for others? Or, do you find they consistently want everything their way? Will they put themselves out, even a little, to make life more comfortable for someone else. Third, do they most often talk about themselves. Do they gossip? Do they miscolor the truth? Do they tell stories about an event in another person’s life and yet manage to have the story revolve around themselves? Do they exaggerate the importance of their role in an event? If a person constantly talks about and brags about their importance, they either have a humility problem, or more likely, a self-esteem issue. Eventually, if you don’t feed their ego enough, they will show their true character and betray you. Another question you can ask is, “Can they be taught?” A know it all is never going to be interested in anything you say, even if it is the truth. The truth has little value to them if it trumps their opinion.

People will fool you and to some degree, it is good to be the person who gets burned every once in a while because you gave your heart to a friend who later turned out not to be a person of character. We keep investing in people although we do not always reap a return. However, when people show you their lack of charity, their self-centeredness, and an inability to do even simple things for others, then you have your warning. These things show the real character of the person. These may not be the people you want to invest heavily in. People can change. Our God is the master of transformation, but a person must be submitted to Him and often this kind of person only plays the Christianity game instead of being yielded to the invested life in Christ.

Lastly, let us be the persons whose actions and words reflect a heart that is surrendered to love and to the care of others. Let’s check ourselves to be certain we are growing in truth and in charity. Let’s not judge others, but let’s be wise and prudent in our dealings with people. Each person must choose for herself what values are most important. While we must allow those people to be less that we believe them capable of, we do not have to accept mediocrity for ourselves. We can be the people who bring a smile to the Father’s face, if only for a moment, because I know we are not perfect yet either, but I pray we are growing in all aspects of His grace and revealing His character in our words and deeds.

Characteristic Wisdom

James 3: 17          (CJB)

But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Today’s verse is taken from the Complete Jewish Bible. This is another translation you may want to look at from time to time. I like what it reveals to us about our heavenly Father in this verse.

Of course the wisdom which comes from above is coming from Yahweh. The verse goes on to list the characteristics of this wisdom which comes down from above. It takes no great intellectual leap to understand that the traits listed here are the traits of the Father. I want you to see that the Father is first of all pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and not hypocritical. Each of those traits is a meditation unto itself and we could end the Word of the Day right here with you meditating on those traits one by one.

There is one other thing that motivated the use of this verse though. I wish for you to see how the whole Bible fits together. You have seen other verses which reveal God’s character traits. You have even seen other verses about His wisdom. Now you see them coming together and that is what I love about the Word. It continues to reveal the Father but in connected ways. His wisdom reflects His character. That will help you when you pray for wisdom. If the answer you receive does not reflect the character of the Father, then it is not from Him. The same is true of advice. If it is not peaceable, impartial, etc. it is not from God.

These verses come together to paint a picture of God and they show you how He moves in the world. Throughout the Bible you will see His kindness revealed in everything He does. By piecing all these verses together we are gaining a better picture of who God is. He freely gives His wisdom to us and it is always from a place of love.

Spiritual Fruit

Galatians 5: 22 – 23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

You are going to encounter a lot of different kinds of people in a lifetime. Some, frankly, mean you ill will. Here is the surprise though. They will usually come dressed as one of the flock, hence the saying a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. That is the only way they can get close enough to you to do you any harm. If they looked like someone that has bad intent on their minds, you would stay far from them. So, they come camouflaged. But fear not. You can tell who they are rather simply and easily. Check their fruit. Do they exhibit the above characteristics? It is not what people say that matters. Remember that Satan quoted the Bible to Jesus in order to trick him. It is not their good works or status in a church. The Spirit of God alive in a person reveals himself through them by the above traits. If they are not kind and gentle; if they show a lack of self-control, then you will know that they may not be who they profess to be.

Look, we are all trying to become the people that God has created us to be and most of us are far from perfect, but Jesus said in these last days there would come false prophets. He said that we would know them by their fruit (Matthew 7: 15 -16). Now by this we not only learn how to discern God’s Spirit in prophets, but also in everyday people. Let us not be unwise but rather protected by the Spirit of the Lord through heavenly wisdom given to us by the Lord himself. Look at people’s fruit, not their words or activities, before you follow them or take their advice.