A while back I heard some advice that I don’t think I’ll forget. The counsel was this: “Pray for the ability to see yourself as others see you.”
That’s good advice. We regularly assume that we come across to others in a certain way. But the reality that others perceive is often something different, and usually less flattering.
Our tendency is to put ourselves in the best possible light, while putting the motives and actions of others in a more questionable light. Left unchecked, this tendency skews your perception of reality in your favor. This distortion may make you feel better about yourself for a time, but it ends up hurting you and others.
Considering how we are viewed by others gets us thinking about those character traits that we need to be working on – rather than those of others. And that’s right in keeping with the emphasis of the Bible, which stresses getting our own houses in order before we go about trying to fix those around us.
Jesus communicated this graphically when he said, “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Mt.7:5). How easy it is to magnify the minor faults of others while glaring faults of our own go unaddressed!
Jesus points this out further with the words, “Physician, heal yourself” (Lk.4:23). It’s assumed that if a doctor had a remedy for some dreaded condition that he would first apply that remedy to himself before treating others. The same should be true in our relations with others. When we know of some good or virtue that needs to be put into practice, we need to be sure we are applying it ourselves.
Over and over the Bible stresses our need to examine our own lives, first and foremost. Only then can we become what God calls us to be, and only then are we really equipped to help others.
Most importantly we need to be concerned about how God views us. Consequently, we need to continually ask Him to pull back the curtain and show us ourselves as we really are.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps.139:23,24).
As we honestly ask God to reveal the truth about ourselves, much of what we see will not be pretty. But it’s essential work if we are going to live honestly before God.
And it’s also a hopeful work. God does not show us our flaws in order to condemn us. Rather, He uses our knowledge of them to cause us to seek His grace and be made new creatures in Jesus Christ.
Consider your life from the perspective of others. And especially consider it from God’s perspective. As you do, you will be in a position to heal yourself, and also bring healing to those around you.