Mirrors are great. I can’t imagine shaving without being in front of a mirror. I use a mirror when I comb my hair, usually. Yes, I do comb my hair. My wife uses a mirror when she’s putting on her makeup. They are a great tool to help us make sure we look our best. Some people become obsessed with those mirrors though. They check themselves constantly. Sometimes it’s because they’re worried that a hair may have come out of place. At other times it’s because they just love looking at themselves. They stop and examine themselves from different angles just to enjoy the show.
Mirrors can be a great tool so long as we remember that beauty is only skin deep. A mirror doesn’t reveal the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. In the TV show M*A*S*H there is an episode where Hawkeye finally got a date with a very good looking nurse. On the date, she began revealing her prejudices and Hawkeye realized that as beautiful as she was on the outside, her life reflected the ugliness of her heart. He got out of that date as quickly as he could. Solomon understood that type of situation. “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (Proverbs 27:19)
Our society focuses on outward beauty. Our advertisements on TV rely on charming people into buying their products because that’s what all the “beautiful” people are buying. Sex appeal is a major tool in advertising because “sex sells.” There are hundreds of different lines of makeup and facial care products all designed to make people look and feel beautiful. We judge others instantly on their looks, assigning people to categories in our minds based on those looks. As a society, though, we have failed to help people learn about, and attain, true inward beauty. Our “heroes” are those who have attained outward beauty and/or financial success. Rather than seeking to understand the hearts of people, we look at their face and their bank account. Or perhaps we look for those six pack abs as part of our body obsessed culture. Solomon reminds us that often, all we see is the beauty that’s skin deep – not the beautiful life that makes a difference in people. Not the beautiful life that is ministering to people who are hurting or in need of someone to care.
We idolize entertainers and pour millions of dollars into their bank accounts while we tolerate or attack teachers who seek to mold our children. Raises are given grudgingly, and retirement accounts are always a place to cut back for teachers. We exalt sports stars who make millions of dollars playing a kid’s game and remind our ministers that they’re supposed to be poor and humble: the church will keep them poor and God will have to make them humble. We spend a fortune on fancy clothes and skin care products so that we will look “just right” while we neglect the needs of the widow, the orphan, and those who cannot provide for themselves. Need I go on? Many sicknesses in society come about because of the obsession we have to look healthy, to look years younger, or to gain financial success without having the moral background to be beautiful on the inside. We use people to get things, when we should use things to help and care for people. If you want to be truly beautiful in God’s eyes, then let your life reflect a hear that has been changed by God. Care for the needy. Look out for the widows and orphans. Speak up for those who are oppressed by society. You may lose your place in the social stratosphere, but you will be beautiful in the eyes of God.
Lord, too often I worry about my outward appearances. Remind me to stop looking at myself and start looking at others. Help me to see the physical, financial, and spiritual needs of others and then meet them. Let my life reflect a heart that You have changed.