We Always Reflect Something

[ F ] Lucian Freud - Self-portrait in a  hand ...

Lucian Freud – Self-portrait in a hand mirror (1967)

This article continues my series on spiritual disciplines titled “Why Men Need Discipline.”  Today’s article is called “We Always Reflect Something” and addresses a question all Christians should ask themselves:  “Do I always reflect who Christ is?”  Spiritual disciplines help us to be able to answer that question with “YES!”

We Always Reflect Something

How long has it been since you looked at yourself in a mirror?  I mean, really looked at yourself?  I tried it today and was startled.  As I stared at myself I began to see things that I just simply overlook most of the time.  Some of the things I saw were good.  Some were not!  It was those “nots” that I wished were not there.  So, being a man of supreme and extreme logic (chuckle, chuckle), I closed my eyes and “wished” those “nots” were not there.  I opened my eyes and guess what?  They were still there.  I just couldn’t wish away part of my reflection.  It is what it is.

Whether we like it or not, whether we agree to it or not, as we live our lives, as we interact with people, as we make choices and engage in relationships, we always reflect something.  And, that “something” is what is inside of us.  We reflect what is in our hearts.  We reflect what is in our minds.  We reflect what is really important to us.

Sometimes what I reflect isn’t very pretty (and I’m not just talking about my face).  My words can be harsh.  My temperament can be inpatient.  My values can be skewed.  My goals can be selfish and prideful.  None of those things is Christ-like.

If asked, I would never “choose” to reflect such things.  But, unfortunately, at times that’s what people see from me and in me. That’s the thing about reflections — they show what IS, not what we WISH.

“A New Command I Give You”

When you became a Christian, you also became an ambassador for Christ.  The “world” should be able to look at you and see who Christ is.  I am using the word “should” on purpose because ambassadorship is one of things you are committing to when you decide to follow Christ.  One of the ways that God shows Himself to people is through His people — through His disciples.  And, Jesus tells us what the world should see:

 

“A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

 

We reflect Christ when we love.  When we love, people see Jesus.

The Bible describes “love” as being patient and kind, as not self-serving, as having a spirit of forgiveness and gentleness, and as doing what is right even when it is difficult to do so.  Love is honoring and protecting our wives.  Love is raising our children to know the Lord.  Love is caring for the widow, the orphan and the disenfranchised.  Love is feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, and clothing the naked.  The Bible tells us that “God IS love” (1 John 4:8).

Spiritual Discipline Helps Us Make Christ Visible

Oh, is that all?  All we have to do is just love everybody all of the time?  Obviously, the problem is that none of us naturally is all of those things all of the time.  In fact, it is in our nature to war against such things much of the time.  That’s where spiritual discipline comes in.

Spiritual disciplines help us make Christ’s loving characteristics supreme in our lives.  For example, attending corporate worship reminds us of who is God (God) and who is not (us).  Learning to react appropriately and Godly in situations by controlling our tempers and our speech reminds us that our lives are about more than our immediate desires.  Regularly meeting with other men in Christian fellowship provides opportunities for rebuke and encouragement so that we will stay motivated to do what is right.  Actively and intentionally serving others reminds us that we are to be servants first.

When we regularly and continually engage in those types of spiritual disciplines, as well as others, God uses them to mold our hearts and shape our thoughts.  Our minds and hearts actually start to become more Christ-like as we “train” to be Christians, and soon we begin to “reflect Christ” to the world.

The Bottom Line

Being a Christian is a wonderful gift from God.  It is also an awesome responsibility.  Who we are to the people of this world shows what we really believe and who we really follow.  Our actions and our words reflect what is in our hearts and minds.

What’s Next?

Jesus Christ was the most influential person who ever lived, and is the most influential person living today.  Are you preparing yourself so that you always reflect who He really is?  Or are you just leaving your reflection to chance?

Ask at least three people in your life (if you are married, make one of those of people your wife) to make a list of the qualities you REALLY reflect.  You will have to give them permission to be completely honest and promise them that you will not hold anything they say against them.  Be prepared to be a little hurt because there will be some things on those lists that you probably won’t expect (remember my looking in the mirror) and that will not be very Christ-like.

Once you receive your list, make a plan to engage regularly in at least two more of the spiritual disciplines we previously discussed in What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway?  Then watch how God begins to change the things on your lists that are not reflective of who Christ is.

 

What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway?

This is the second article in my series on spiritual disciplines titled “Why Men Need  Discipline.”  You can see the first article here: What is Discipline?” 

In today’s post, What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway?, we will discuss various forms of spiritual disciplines.

Spiritual Disciplines: A Definition

A spiritual discipline is something we either do or refrain from doing, repeatedly over time, so as to become trained in the habits of seeing God, hearing God, obeying God and doing God’s will.

As we engage in spiritual disciplines regularly, over time God uses them to change our hearts and our minds.  We become transformed into someone who more closely reflects Jesus Christ in our mood, our speech, our attitudes, and our decisions.  We become less focused on ourselves and on the things of the world, and more focused on God and His desires for our lives.

Some Examples of Spiritual Disciplines

A few examples of spiritual disciplines include:

Prayer – communication with God.  Allowing Him to speak to us and our bringing to Him praises, thankfulness, confession, adoration, worries, fears, troubles, anxieties and much more.  We also should pray for others and for the church.

Bible reading – just reading the Bible with no purpose other than to hear from God.  The Bible is God speaking to us.

Bible study – going deeper into the meaning of God’s Word.  Study is different from just reading.  I read the newspaper but I don’t study it.  When we study God’s Word, alone or in a group, we should use a variety of means to get the most out of what the Word has for us to learn.

Worship – this is not just an event on the weekend, but a way of living.  At times, we worship together corporately, but most of our worship should be in the form of our daily lives as we give up what may be important to us in exchange for what is most important to God.

Christian Fellowship – spending time with other Christians.  Doing life together.

Giving – returning a portion of what we have been given to God by making regular offerings to our churches, to missionaries and to others in need.

Service – putting our gifts, talents and passions to work in practical ways to help the church with its mission and to help our communities, particularly those who have need.

Meditation and silence – getting away from the busyness and hustle of the daily grind, freeing our minds to think about what God is saying to us.  Being in silence allows that to happen more freely.

Rest and Sleep – getting enough rest and sleep so that we are not physically exhausted.  This allows us to be our best for Him, for our families, and for all of the work that God has for us to do.

Health – taking care of our bodies so that we can be most useful to God and others and also so we will be good examples of discipline to others.

Evangelism – inviting people to learn about Jesus.  Inviting people to church and to our homes and other small group events.

Reactions – learning to react in Godly ways to all situations.  Controlling our tempers.  Not allowing fear to dominate our lives.  Staying confident and positive, even in times of great distress.

Choices – learning to make wise choices that are based on scripture and not on selfish desires.  Choosing rightly regarding who we spend time with, what we spend money on, where we go and don’t go, etc.

Again, these are just some of the things that could be considered “spiritual disciplines,” but it’s a good list to use to start!

The Bottom Line is Relationship Building

The bottom line is still relationship building!  God uses our effort in becoming disciplined in areas that matter, allowing Him to train us to be righteous, in order to draw us closer to Him and to increase our desire to connect with others more closely and in more holy ways.

What’s Next …

Some reasons why men specifically need to develop spiritual discipline is the topic of my next post. . . .