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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Part 1

From the series Precious in His Sight

Chip's wife, Theresa, begins this series with her story of hope, in the midst of pain and discouragement - a journey toward wholeness, concerning the same things that so many women struggle with today. Men have much to learn as well, about the women they love and their own relationship with the Lord.

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Message Transcript

Have you ever been around someone that just could not receive a compliment? I had a friend like that a few years ago, a good friend. And I would try to say nice things to her, something about her – whether it was about her appearance, or something she was doing – and it would just seem like it would bounce off of her, like a rubber ball bouncing off the wall. She just couldn’t receive the compliments that I was giving her, and she always had some kind of excuse that would come back to me.

Like, if I would say, “Oh, you look so pretty in that outfit,” she would always say, “Oh, this old thing?” And she could not receive the compliment. Or I would tell her, “Oh, you did a great job on that project. God really used it.” And she would come back, and say, “Oh, anyone could have done it.” You know, “That was not anything special.” And she couldn’t receive the compliments that I had.

My husband gives me lots of compliments. And he really loves me. And, he’s said to me, many times, “Oh, you’re the most beautiful woman in the whole world!” And my immediate response, many times, to him has just been, “Ohhh.” You know, “I don’t believe that.” And he would get so frustrated with me, because I would not receive the compliment that he wanted to give me.

Now, I know that I’m not the most beautiful woman in the whole world, but, you know, in my husband’s eyes, I am. To him, I am. And he’s expressing what he feels about me, and his love for me, and he’s expressing what he sees. And what I need to do – what I’m trying to learn to do – is to respond in gratefulness to that, and receive the compliments that he gives me, and just say, “Thank you. Thank you, I’m glad that you feel that way.” You can keep me accountable; you can ask me if I did that the next time.

Anyway, my husband gives me a compliment through imperfect eyes, and I give my friends compliments through imperfect eyes. But there’s One who looks at each of us with perfect eyes, and He sees us for who we truly are. He sees us, inside and out. And He knows us completely, and He knows us intimately. He knows all about our lives. And the One who sees us perfectly is the Lord Jesus Christ.

And, in His Word, in the Bible, He tells us who we really are, and He tells us how He sees us. And He says many good things about us – how He views us, and how He wants us to view ourselves. And His desire for us is to just say, “Thank You. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that this is how You see me, and this is who I truly am,” and then, for us to live out our lives based on who we truly are, on who God says we are.

Well, we all have a self-image, don’t we? We all view ourselves in a certain way; we all have a mental picture of who we are, and it impacts every area of our lives. It impacts how we relate to others, and it will affect the decisions that we make in life. It will affect how we relate to God.

And there are a few women here tonight, I know, who probably have a really, really positive self-image: You really like yourself. You like who you are. But I know – because I’ve been around women for a long, long time – that there are many, many of you here tonight who don’t like who you are, who don’t like the person that you see. And then, there are probably a few in between – you like some things about you, and not others.

But what God wants us to learn – this weekend, especially – is that He wants us to have a healthy self-image. And that is, that we would see ourselves as God sees us, that we would view ourselves the way God sees us – no more, and no less. It’s not thinking poorly of ourselves, and neither is it thinking, I’m God’s gift to mankind.

You know, it’s an identity that’s based on who God says I am. And God wants us to be able to see ourselves through His perfect eyes, and His perfect eyes say that you are precious in His sight. And He doesn’t want us to look at ourselves through the imperfect eyes of the world, the system that distorts the image of who we are.

But God says to you that you are one of a kind, that you are uniquely created, and you’re deeply loved by Him, and that your life has great significance. It has meaning, and purpose, because you were created in the image of God, and you were created to reflect Him in the way that you live.

And so, this weekend, what we’re going to do is look at some important spiritual truths that tell us who we really are, who God says we are, and that, when He looks at you, and me, and He looks at all of His children, this is what He sees. And so, if you have your little notebook, there, if you would turn to the first session, and it’s called “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall.”

So, when you look, when you look at your reflection in the mirror of yourself, what do you see? What do you see? Do you see a beautiful woman? Do you feel pleased about the reflection that comes back, that stares back at you? Or do you always find an imperfection? Do you always find something that needs to be changed, or removed?

Or maybe you don’t like to look at yourself in the mirror, at all, because it reminds you of all those things that need to be changed. Or maybe you’re one of those who spend lots of time in front of the mirror trying to fix those things. Our culture says that we are trying to find our acceptance in the way that we see ourselves, that, when we look in the mirror, that that defines who we are.

James Dobson has written a wonderful book called Hide or Seek. And it’s a wonderful book. And it tells about how you can help your child develop a healthy self-image, and how to build confidence in your child.

And, in that book, he says that the most highly valued personal attribute in our culture is physical attractiveness. That’s the most highly valued attribute – physical, personal attribute: physical attractiveness. That’s how our bodies look on the outside. And how we look on the outside is more valued than character. It’s more valued than honesty, or kindness, or diligence.

And we live in a culture, in our country, that is obsessed – it’s obsessed with our bodies. We can’t grow old gracefully anymore. We have to have buns of steel, and we have to have wrinkle-free skin. In fact, we’re told that we can find beauty in a jar, and youth in a pill. And the TV, the media, magazines – you know, all the advertisements – are just bombarding us, every day, telling us that we’re not good enough the way we are. And we’re constantly reminded of all of our physical imperfections.

There’s a book that came out a few years ago, called Beauty and the Best, and Debra Evans writes, in her book, “According to today’s image cult, I’m to be as pretty as possible if I hope to succeed professionally, or sexually, in today’s world. My nails are to have no chips, cracks, or ridges. My lips must never be chapped, or too pale. My complexion is to be as zitless, greaseless, and pitless as possible, with wrinkles, crow’s feet, unsightly hair, dry spots, moles, freckles, and smile lines kept to an absolute minimum.

My teeth must not be yellow, or crooked, or uneven. My hair should be cut to compliment my facial structure, and conditioned to shine, bounce, curl, and not get frizzy. My body should match widely publicized dimensions for its height, and frame size, while being strictly controlled at all times, especially in regards to eating and exercising. And I’m to passionately dislike any flab, or cellulite, on my body so much that I’m willing to cut, or starve, myself to get rid of it.
Once I’ve bought into this idea of beauty, there are countless products and services available to help me attain it – thanks to today’s multi-billion-dollar beauty industry. The problem is I never seem to be able to obtain the image they’re selling me.”

Now, we can get so caught up in placing our focus on what needs to change, or be improved, in our bodies that we forget to be thankful for the good qualities that we do have. And I think it’s just a part of our human nature, especially as women, to walk into a group – a group like tonight – and look around, and see how everybody’s dressed, and how everybody looks.

And we pull out this little tape measure, in our minds – whether we’re even aware that it’s there, or not – and we measure ourselves – whether we fit in, or not, whether I look good, or bad – by how others look. We compare ourselves with others. We decide whether we’re acceptable, or not, by comparing ourselves with what the world says is beautiful; and by comparing ourselves with other people.

Well, it’s pretty sad, when you think about it, that we have to go through all of that. So, tonight, let’s set what our culture says about our physical appearance, and about beauty – let’s set it over on the shelf for a while, tonight, and let’s hear from God. Let’s hear what He has to say about our appearance. And when God looks at you, and when He looks at me, this is what He sees. And God says that this is true about your appearance.

The first thing is, my physical appearance, in my unchangeable aspects, is beautiful in God’s sight, because He is my Designer and Maker. You are beautiful in His sight. And, secondly, He says, my value as a person – my innate worth, and significance – is not determined by my outward appearance. It’s not determined by my outward appearance.

In the first description of man and woman, and how they were created, in the Book of Genesis – Genesis 1 – it’s interesting to note that, in the creation of mankind, when God made Adam and Eve, their physical appearance was not even described. Now, think about that: It was not even important enough to put in the Book.

We don’t know what Eve looked like. We don’t know what color her hair was. We don’t know how tall she was. We don’t know how much she weighed, or what body structure she had. We’re not told any of these things about Eve.

In Genesis 1:26-31 – you don’t need to look up these passages. You can look them up later, if you want to do that. For time’s sake, we’ll just kind of go through these tonight. But Genesis 1:26-31 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make people in Our image, to be like Ourselves; they will be masters over all life, the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals and small animals.’

So God created people in His own image. God patterned them after Himself. Male and female, He created them. God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish, and the birds, and all the animals.’ And God said, ‘Look, I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food, and I’ve given you all the grasses and other green plants to the animals and birds for their food.’ And so it was.

Then God looked over all that He had made, and He saw that it was excellent in every way.”

When Adam and Eve were created, they were created in the image of God and He says they were “excellent in every way” – bodies and all, appearance and all. See, the physical appearance was not even mentioned. But what we do learn, what He especially points out to us, is, they were made in the image of God. They were made to be like God, to reflect who He is, and they were given responsibility to care for the earth. And they were given a responsibility to multiply, and to fill the earth. But He said their bodies were excellent. The way they were made was excellent, even though we don’t have a description of what they look like.

In our culture, beauty is usually equated with goodness of some kind, or our culture equates beauty with success, or equates beauty with significance. But in the Bible, beauty is not depicted as either good, or bad.

In fact, there are very few instances in the Old Testament – it’s not mentioned in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament, there are very few times that a person’s physical appearance is mentioned. And we tend to connect that with good, but, many times, if the physical appearance is mentioned in the Old Testament, it’s connected with the sinfulness, and the trouble, of man.

For instance, in Genesis 12:10-13, it says, “Now there was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. And it came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai, his wife, ‘See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and it will come about when the Egyptians see you that they will say, “This is his wife”; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.’” And see, because of the beauty of Abraham’s wife, the beauty of Sarah, Abram feared for his life.

Now, there wasn’t anything wrong with her being beautiful, but he was afraid that his life would be taken, that Sarah would be taken away. And so, he lied, and he sinned against God. And it was the result of his fear over Sarah’s beauty, and that she might be taken from him.

In 2 Samuel 11:1-2, it says, “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon . . . But David stayed at Jerusalem. Now when evening came, David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.”

Now, most of us know that story of David and Bathsheba, and how he saw her, and he saw how beautiful she was, and he lusted for her. And he was enticed, and tempted, by the beauty of this woman. And then, he ended up committing adultery, and then, eventually, murder.

And then, also – lest we think that God just mentions the beauty of women – in Genesis 39:6 and 7, he talks about Joseph. And Joseph was in Potiphar’s house, and Potiphar the Pharaoh’s wife saw how handsome Joseph was. And she was enticed by the handsome appearance of Joseph’s body, and she lusted for him. Of course, Joseph responded in a Godly way, and he ran from her. But, because of this situation, and her lies about what he did, Joseph ended up in jail.

And so, we see that many times. And I’ve been reading through the Old Testament this past year, and I’ve had my eye out for the appearance of this word, and it’s just been amazing to me how many times that this has been connected with the trouble of man and the sinfulness of man. But the Bible, you see, is not saying that beauty – to have a beautiful appearance – is either good or bad, but that, sometimes, it can lead to a snare, temptation to evil.

Well, on the other hand, God, at times, used the physical beauty of someone to bring about good, as with Queen Esther, who, because of her beauty, was chosen to be the queen. And, as queen, she would be placed in a position where God could use her life to bring deliverance to her people. And so, there, we see that it was used in a very positive way.

Also, in the Song of Solomon 1:15-16, we see it says, “How beautiful you are, my darling. How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves.” Does your husband ever say that to you? “How handsome” – do you ever say this to him? “How handsome you are, my beloved, and so pleasant!” You see, in the Song of Solomon, God’s teaching us that it’s a good thing for a husband and wife to be delighted with the physical appearance of their mate, to enjoy that.

And then – I thought this was interesting – in the New Testament, a woman’s physical appearance is never even mentioned. The Bible never instructs us to achieve physical beauty. It never instructs us to do that. And it doesn’t teach that physical beauty is a special blessing for those who have it.

And so, knowing what the Bible says about beauty, this leads us to our first truth tonight that we really want to embrace, and that is, my physical appearance is beautiful to God. It’s beautiful to Him, because He designed me, and He created me, just the way He wanted me to be, and just the way He wanted you to be. I’m His child, and I’ve been created in God’s image.

I’ve never known a mother who didn’t think her newborn baby was just so cute, and so wonderful, and so beautiful in every way. And that baby was formed in that mother’s womb. It’s a part of her. And her baby has some unique characteristics that are like her, and she loves her baby, immediately. She loves it, and she thinks it’s beautiful, no matter what it looks like.

Have you all looked at a baby that wasn’t that cute, and tried to say, “Yes”? Someone said to say, “Oh, yeah, that’s a baby. That’s a baby.” But they’re all cute to the mother. You know, she thinks her child is the most beautiful child in the world.

Several years ago – quite a few years ago, really, I worked as a secretary on a college campus. And many of the women who worked there were young, married women, and they were at that stage in their lives where they were having babies. And every time a new baby was born –we were a pretty close group of women, up there – every time a baby was born, the mother would come up, after a week or so, and she would bring her baby up, and show it off to all the people who worked there.
And I worked with a young woman named Sue. And when Sue’s baby was born, it was born with a severe cleft palate. And her baby just wasn’t as cute to look at as all the other babies that were brought up there. But that didn’t seem to matter to Sue. Her baby required several surgeries to repair the problem with her mouth, and her baby just didn’t look as cute as the other babies.

But you know what? I was amazed, as I watched her – and I wasn’t a Christian yet, but she was. And I watched her life. And she brought that baby up there – and she was so proud of it – and she showed her baby off. And she fed it there – she had to feed it in a special way – and she took care of that baby as we watched her.

And to her, you know what? It was the most beautiful baby in the whole world. Because it was her baby, and she loved that baby. And it was hers. It was a part of her. And it didn’t matter. You see, it didn’t matter to Sue what her little girl’s appearance looked like, because she belonged to Sue. She was hers. She was her child.

And I want you to know, tonight, that that’s how it is with God, that that’s how He sees each one of us. You see, we are His. We belong to Him. And we were created in His image, to be like Him. And He loves us just the way we are, and each one of us is beautiful, beautiful in His sight.

Well, God supervised, and He watched over each of us as we were intricately knit together in our mother’s womb. In Psalms 139:13-18, it says, “You made all the delicate inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex. It’s amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion.

You saw me before I was born, and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in Your Book. How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly. I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn towards me, and when I waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me.”

That’s how much God loves you, and that’s how special, and important, every person is to Him. God sovereignly supervised the process of your reproduction, and He made a masterpiece. You were born into this world as a unique individual, and a person who’s created in the image of God, and a person who’s created to reflect the image of God, a person who’s beautiful in the eyes of God, because you are part of Him.

And every child that He makes is different. Every child He makes is different, but they’re all very special. You know, we come in all shapes, and sizes, and colors, and characteristics unique to us, but we are one of a kind. We are unique, and beautiful to Him, and very special.