Sunday, 31 July 2016

Transforming our lives starts with examining ourselves

I have come to realise that I cannot control anyone else’s behaviour or actions, I can only look at and change my own. Someone once told me that we are all ‘mirror images’ of one another and something we see in someone else that we don’t particularly like is often something that we need to look at in ourselves.

How easy is it to live each day and see (what we perceive as) all the negative things that other people say and do? How quick are we to think how someone has wronged us, or short changed us or insulted us? It happens so easily and so often and it feels so natural that it almost becomes human nature, however we must realise that it is not God’s nature. In fact loving one another is made clear throughout the bible. One such example is found in John 15:12 ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’.

I have been through many trails and tests in my life but I can think of two specific situations that have been extremely painful. In both situations God taught me some huge lessons and changed my heart, mind and actions, which as a result transformed my life.  I find that God often does this, He puts me in situations which at the time I have no idea why they have to happen but then further down the line He shows me that these difficult things have to take place for change to happen to allow the will of God to unfold; James 1:2-3 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance’. I also find that the difficult situations I am faced with are usually about me having to look at myself and to focus on me rather than someone or something else.

Don’t get me wrong, my natural instinct in many circumstances is to look at what the other person has done to me, however there is only so long that God’s spirit in us will allow us to do this because whilst we are focussing on others we experience the complete opposite of the fruits of the spirit; Galatians 5:22-23 ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’. I have come to realise that I cannot control anyone else’s behaviour or actions, I can only look at and change my own. Someone also once told me that we are all ‘mirror images’ of one another and something we see in someone else that we don’t particularly like is often something that we need to look at in ourselves.  I don’t know how true this is (there’s no science behind it) but I know that I always apply this test and it is usually the case! What a transformation we would see in this world if we applied this philosophy every time we have a disagreement, get hurt or offended or feel betrayed etc.

All relationships in our lives whether family, friendship, marriage, professional etc will go through difficult times, and it is inevitable that one person if not both will get upset, hurt or offended at some point.  At these times it is easy to blame the other person, yet God tells us in Matthew 7:3-5 ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’. I think it is fair to say that at some point, myself included, that we have all been guilty of this. How is it that we find it so easy to look at ourselves in the mirror each day and check our physical (external) appearance before we leave our house? Even when we’re running late we will still have a quick peek before we go out! Why then do we not find time to look in our own ‘internal mirror’ and examine our inner being, because this is what is truly important. The bible tells us that God looks at our heart, not at our hair or clothes! Proverbs 21:2 ‘A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart’.

The popular Michael Jackson song, ‘the man in the mirror’ although not a Christian worship song has such a poignant meaning as it says: ‘I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then make a change’. Wow, to actually absorb and apply those words would not only transform our relationships, and our whole life, but also us!  Although these specific words may not be found in the bible God provides us with His own words, praise God; 2 Corinthians 13 ‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? These words confirm many of the fundamental teachings of Jesus because love, kindness, forgiveness, goodness and gentleness are mentioned throughout the bible. The power we have to transform our lives by looking at the ‘man in the mirror’, rather than others is incredible. Looking at ourselves not only takes away negative feelings such as anger, judgment, hurt, resentment which the word tells us are all ‘acts of the flesh’ as detailed in Galatians 5:19-21, but it also replaces them with feelings of peace, love, joy and forgiveness and allows us to experience the fruits of the spirit as detailed above in Galatians 5:22-23.

Ultimately forgiveness is not about accepting that someone who hurts us is right, it is having faith that God is in control and He will do what is right.  So, in all situations we can only be responsible for ourselves, we should ‘let it go’ and look at/work on our part and hand over the situation in faith, to God; Hebrews 10:30 ‘For we know him who said, It is mine to avenge; I will reply, and again, The Lord will judge his people’. So let God deal with your circumstance, trust it to him and always start with the ‘man in the (internal) mirror.’ Don’t waste any time feeling hurt and offended, instead be full of joy and happiness as you turn into the person God has creating you to be.

Author: Joleana O’Neill

May God bless and enrich your life

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  1. A really thought provoking article showing us that to develop a deeper relationship with God we need to look at ourselves everyday and to continue to do this throiughout our lives. God bless

  2. Praise God for your willingness to write and share your experience with the body of Christ. This challenges me to consider my inner man and not the external appearance that the world sees (Matt 23 v25). All the glory to our AWESOME GOD ALWAYS, Amen sister xxx

  3. God Bless you for this article. Definitely will be looking at my "internal man" more from now on.

  4. Fantastic words to remind us that we are all God creation and we not be judgmental but keep the command of God that tells us to Love one another God bless Herbie

  5. our loving God changes us from glory to glory his mercies are new every morning. a brave and open hearted blog . written with a contrite heart . Jesus Christ will be glorified in your lifes journey this desire is clear to see in your heart x

  6. Great blog and a great encouragement to examine ourselves and not judge others, and to be the best we can be for God. He is the judge we are His servants and just like a mirror reflects our image we should reflect the image of God. Thank you. May God bless you mightily.