By Chris McRae, BCI Discipleship Team Leader
Some days when I’m getting ready for the day, I stand and look in the mirror at the face of the man staring back at me. I take a good look, trying to recognize him, and when I do I begin to wonder if I really like that guy at all. I mean, he’s a nice enough chap. He goes to work, pays his bills, takes care of his family. He hasn’t committed any crimes recently…other than his not-too-flagrant traffic violations. Deep down though, I suspect that if I let myself get to know him better, I wouldn’t really want to be his friend.
This doesn’t mean that my ego is detached from said reflection. There’s no greater sense of inflated self-worth than an overly humble self-assessment. I’m just being honest here. That guy – when it really comes right down to it – I don’t think I like him at all. You see, that man there is one self-centered dude. He concerns himself with things he couldn’t even begin fix…fixer that he imagines himself to be. He’s self-important, believing that others value what he brings to the table. He thinks he’s better looking than he really is. He even believes that, given the right set of circumstances, if the universe hadn’t plotted against him in some nefarious way, he could have really gone far, accomplished much and “had it all.”
The truth is though, that given the right set of wrong circumstances, he would have turned out much worse. And that’s the heart of his problem with the guy. He knows this deep in his heart. You see, he’s got his own set of problems. Especially at this stage of life. (Whatever stage that might be, I’ve, discovered that they are bigger and more daunting than ever before faced.) I know what they say about problems: they’re just opportunities! Yeah, right! Well, if problems are opportunities then it’s important to point out that opportunities are just temptations.
And don’t get me started talking about the connections between problems, opportunities, temptation, and sin. I look at that guy in the mirror and know his inside life better than anyone else. I also know – and this is another reason I don’t like him all that much – is that I know that if he’d had the opportunities for fame and fortune, wine and women, power and authority, that others have been given, he’d be as bad or worse than the lot.
Yes, there’s a bit of a superior attitude adopted when we see guys, who indeed “have it all,” blow it. The skilled athlete handed a multi-million dollar contract, the talented entertainer traveling with an entourage in tow, the visionary artist with adoring masses at his feet. I imagine that I’d handle it all much better than they do. Why doesn’t God give the good gifts of his creation to his children to steward more appropriately? I tisk, tisk and tut, tut! But the answer is obvious. That man in the mirror would blow it big time!
You see, problems are opportunities, and opportunities are temptations, and temptations then are just a short step from sin.
It’s not so much my virtue that’s kept me from sin as it is the lack of opportunities. My character hasn’t protected me half so much as my circumstances. Without talent, money, personality, looks and such, I simply haven’t had the chance to sin on as great a level as I would have enjoyed. And that is probably why I don’t like that reflection of me that I saw this morning as I was getting ready for work. However, there’s no need for despair. In fact, it is in this realization that there’s the greatest hope.
Even though I may not be as bad a man as I could have been and I’m certainly not as good a man as I should have been, there’s hope for me yet. There is a Good Man, who has seen it all, been tempted by it – the power, the riches, the control, the all and walked away from it all with his head held high even as he was lifted high upon a tree for his Goodness. And he has made a way for me to be with him in his glory – a glory that’s not simply a reflection of his goodness, but one that is of his essence.