This story appears in FCA Magazine’s November/December 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7b
I go to a gym where almost every square inch of the walls is covered by 8-foot mirrors. When I walk in, I can literally see myself from multiple angles all the way to the locker room.
I know tons of people who don’t like going to a gym for that very reason—the constant, visual reminder of their previous shortcomings. Others avoid it because they fear they will stand out. They’re afraid all the “fit people” will see they’re out of shape, not strong enough, not pretty enough, you name it. And I’ve heard countless people say, “I have to get in shape before I go back to the gym!” Say what?! They’re afraid everyone will be looking at them.
But here’s the truth: No one will be looking at you, because they’re looking at themselves. If I had a nickel for every time I saw a guy looking at his own reflection in the mirror and flexing, I might be very rich! Now, I’m not saying I’ve never done that myself. I have, and it has its place. But I am increasingly aware of how unhealthy our obsession with our physical appearance is.
However, our physical reflection or appearance can be a poor indicator of our actual health. The outside doesn’t necessarily say much about the inside. You can look happy, but be miserable. You can look strong on the outside, but be weak on the inside.
That’s what the prophet Samuel discovered when he visited Jesse’s family in a quest to anoint a new king to replace Saul, who was an impressive figure on the outside, but far from God on the inside. When Samuel took one look at Jesse’s son Eliab he excitedly thought, “Surely this is the LORD’s anointed!” (1 Samuel 16:6) But God taught Samuel an important lesson as he rejected Eliab: The outside may be impressive, but it’s the inside that matters most. This same scenario played out as each of Jesse’s seven sons were presented to Samuel. Finally, the youngest son, David, was brought in from the fields and chosen by God to be the next king; his heart was devoted to God, and he would do whatever God asked of him.
One of God’s purposes in our lives is to narrow the gap between our inward reality and our outward appearance. It’s a process called sanctification, where God refines us and helps us reflect the true beauty of Christ that flows from a healthy soul.
One of God's purposes in our lives is to narrow the gap between our inward reality and our outward appearance.To make that happen, God gives us a tool called personal reflection. It’s where we remove ourselves from the noise and busyness of life to take an honest look at who we really are and how we’re doing. But we must reflect through God’s eyes, not our own. Remember, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Positive reflection helps you see your current reality so you can make progress towards God’s best. It sees things not only how they are, but how they can be! It is optimistic about the future.
Negative reflection, on the other hand, views your current reality as a permanent condition. It makes you see everything with a critical, judgmental, harsh eye. It magnifies every imperfection and is pessimistic about the future.
The following three reminders have helped me train my brain to see things more from a godly perspective.
Reflect on your progress, not your imperfection. Celebrate your wins along the way to your goals. Stop being upset with where you are, and get excited about the steps you are taking. Reflect on how far you’ve come instead of how far you still have to go. You will never be perfect, so get over it and continue making progress.
Reflect on your future, not your failure.
See past failures as fuel for future success. They don’t define or defeat you—they drive you. The enemy wants to keep you stuck in your failure so you never realize the future God has planned for you. Look into your future and see your health in vivid detail. Keep your eyes on your goals. See every failure as an opportunity to learn, grow and get better.
Reflect on what you can do, not what you can’t. The word “can’t” stops action. Every time you say, “I can’t,” it should be followed with, “but with God I can …” Reinforce good habits and focus on what’s possible, not impossible. Instead of reflecting on all the reasons you can’t or won’t, remind yourself of why you can and will!
Resist the urge to be disappointed with what you see and go to work behind the scenes to make changes for the better. When we focus on creating a healthy inside, the outside will become an accurate and natural reflection of good health.
Results From Reflection:
1. Reflect on your progress: List the progress you have made toward a health goal. In what ways are you moving forward and getting healthier?
2. Reflect on your future: Describe what your health looks like and feels like in the near future. What does it look like next year?
3. Reflect on what you can do: List three things you can do right now to improve your health, make progress and create a healthier future.