Are you the type of person that looks into a mirror and sees how flawed they are? That you’ve noticed the effects of aging and how you aren’t as good-looking as you used to be? Or perhaps that you see that you don’t measure up to the world’s standards. For males, that you’re not as tall or muscular as you’d like to be. For females, that you’re not thin enough or attractive enough. You wish that mole was gone, or you had a longer nose, or your cheeks were of a certain complexion, or that your abs would show a glorious 6/4 pack. Or even that you would look like a certain ethnicity. A Canadian woman living in Japan once said this, “I wish I could rip my white face off and put on a Japanese one so that I would be more accepted”.
I think many of us feel ashamed of how we look, myself included. Even if friends and family tell us that we are ‘good enough’ for them, their assurance is temporary and fleeting. Exercise may also bring temporary results, but never lasting. Genetics, or a bad binge can easily errode a great workout. No matter how hard we try, that visit to the mirror always seems to tell us that we aren’t good enough and need to try harder. A vicious cycle indeed of guilt and remorse. Many of us suffer from poor self-esteem.
Before we can look at a solution, we have the start with the root of the problem. Where does this guilt and need for “worth” come from? The bible tells us that our guilt stems from our need to be loved. If you recall the two greatest commandments Jesus gave were to “love the Lord your God with all your strength…” and to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Both stem from the basic life giving currency of love. When we look into the mirror and wish for a more socially acceptable image, we are looking to be loved (approved) by others. When we look into the mirror and look at ourselves in disgust, we are essentially saying that we don’t love ourselves. This is both a product of The bodies we live in which hates itself (Romans 8:13), as well as the lies of the devil who seeks to mold us into hateful beings.
Just as there are two roots to the problem, I believe there are two biblical solutions.
- Accept the the biblical reality of our bodies – The biblical reality is that our bodies are all decaying and we really are flawed – warts and all. When you see that zit, mole, white hair, fat belly, its the reality of our fallen nature. It shows us that sin is real and our lives are brief. The body we are looking for is not of this world and in heaven will suffer no decay, sadness, sin, or guilt (Revelation 21:4). That we need to live humble as well as meaningful lives for the kingdom of God. See James 4:14-15. Your flesh WILL tell you that you’re not good enough no matter how spiritual you may be, but you have a choice whether to deny this reality or embrace it.
- Accept God’s love and approval – The hardest thing for us to do is to believe in the promises of Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” That God is full control of your appearance and that he has made you “wonderfully”. To believe that God has created you for a purpose and that he has made you wonderfully to enjoy life as he has given it to you. That our approval does not come from man (for that is fleeting), but that our approval has already came from God. So then, the reason we take care of our bodies is not to gain approval but rather because God has given it to us to steward over it (1 Corinthians 6:19).
If you still don’t believe God loves you for who you are, I can prove else wise. You need to look at a place called cavalry – it has three crosses on it, and one of them God sent his only son to die for your sins – while you were still a sinner. Allow me to paraphrase Romans 5:8. While you’re still a mangled mess, God loves you for who you are so much so that he was willing to give you a new body, new hope, new life. He loves you sacrificially and unconditionally because he did all on the cross and you had no part in it because even to this day you’re flawed. If that doesn’t warm your soul, I don’t know what will.
I pray that when you look into the mirror today, you’ll believe in the promise of 139:14 – that God has fearfully and wonderfully made you – warts and all.