Take off the Mask

Do you know of anybody you would describe as always wearing a mask? Not being real? Always acting and faking? You may have read or heard the story of a girl who pretended to have come from abroad and picked a cab. Pronouncing wrongly and with a British accent, her destination, the cab driver increased the fare and with a scream she pronounced correctly the area and this time, with the local accent and language, the fare was reduced to the actual. The question now is, what impression was she trying to create? Pretending to live abroad doesn’t in any way mean you are better. Neither does it make one more superior. We should learn to love what we have and own. We should try to develop what we have, and instead of being the other person, we should be ourselves. Stop being fake. Stop being a copy cat. Be you. Be real. Be nice and sweet.

I may have judged them wrongly, but I know a few persons who strike me as not being real and when we converse, all I say in my mind is “can you just be real?”. It is like being a queen on Instagram and Facebook, yet in reality one is nothing. In a bid to deceive and feel good about nothing, people go masking themselves. So tell me; are you real or do you need to take off the mask?

This message concerns all of us because so many times we act one way on the outside, but we’re actually another way on the inside. We are one way on social media, and actually another off social media. Because we have weaknesses, faults and fears—things that we think make us less likable or desirable—we’d rather hide them from other people. So we wear masks. We use a concealer. I say to you today; embrace your weakness. Embrace your faults and own up your fears. That is the only way we can get better. Whoever you are, you will need to confront your fear and weakness and until that is done, you will never be able to explore who you are. You will never be able to know what lie beyond the limits set by our minds, fear and weakness.

The danger of wearing a mask is that it misrepresents us. It hides us. We can say, it protects us, but from nothing. It makes us tell and live a lie. What other people see is a lie. It’s not who we are or who we were born to be. What we don’t realize is no matter how much we change the outside, we can’t change who we really are deep down inside. Only God can change our hearts.

We need to realize that God loves us just the way we are right now, and His love for us will never diminish.

And there’s more good news. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that God is changing us and making us more like Himself, fixing the flaws we want to cover up. We find the same love story in Jer 18:1ff, saying we are a work on a wheel. The master is still making and working us out; a work in progress.

Let us trust Him enough to take off our mask. Let us trust Him enough to be real. If you let go and let God, you will find, as I have, that each day, we are being changed, little by little, into the very image of our Lord.

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: Take off the mask.

PRAYERS: Lord, I realise that I often wear a mask in other to fit in and find acceptance. Today I make a decision to find acceptance in You. As You overwhelm me with Your love continue to change me into your image. Amen

Warnings

These days, practically everything you buy seems to carry some kind of warning on it. Some of these warnings can seem a little ridiculous. For example:

Sainsbury’s peanuts: ‘Warning – Contains nuts’. Nytol Nighttime Sleep-Aid: ‘Warning – May cause drowsiness’. On a household DIY drill: ‘Not intended for use as dentist drill’. Because so many warnings seem almost absurd, the danger is that we ignore them. But not all warnings are so ridiculous.

On a rainy day, some time in March 2012, l had a terrible experience and the car I was driving got stuck. A man had climbed out of his damaged car and ran along the road to try to warn oncoming vehicles of the wreckage ahead but I thought it didn’t matter. I thought I knew the roads so well so I could always find my way. But you know what? I ended up spending a lot of money in towing and fixing the vehicle after water had entered the engine. Not all appreciated the warnings. Some drivers sounded their horns at him and drove on towards the crash. Today too, not many people appreciate warnings.

This mans warning to the other drivers were not only heroic; they were an act of love. Jesus himself often warned of dangers ahead (see for example Matthew 7:13,19,26–27). Jesus knew that in the long run it is more loving to warn people by telling them the truth. God loves you. He does not want you to get hurt. There are many warnings in the Bible and they all stem from God’s love for you.

It is an almost invariable principle of life that what you sow now, you reap later. Much of the teaching in this section of Proverbs is summed up by the verse: ‘If you dig a pit, you will fall into it; if you roll a stone, it will roll back on you’ (Prov 26: 27). In other words, you reap what you sow.

The writer warns against malice: ‘Malice backfires; spite boomerangs’ (v.27). However much we try to conceal our desire to hurt other people, it will eventually be exposed: and we will reap the consequences. Next, he warns against ‘a lying tongue’ (v.28). Be very careful that you only speak the truth about others. It is sometimes tempting to tell exaggerated stories about our opponents. But the writer warns, ‘A lying tongue hates those it hurts’ (v.28). He goes on to warn about boasting (27:1). Don’t boast about what you are going to achieve, as you don’t know what the future will hold. It is all right to receive praise from others but it should not come from your own lips (v.2). Then, he warns against provoking people: ‘Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both’ (v.3). Finally, in this passage, he warns about jealousy, which Shakespeare described as ‘the green-eyed monster’ that mocks ‘the meat it feeds on’. Jealousy is an even more powerful and dangerous force than anger and fury (v.4): ‘We’re blasted by anger and swamped by rage, but who can survive jealousy?’ (v.4, MSG).

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: look out for warning signs because there are there.

PRAYER: Lord, guard my heart. May I appreciate when I am warned Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.

Do Good

There are some people you know who are good. In fact they never stop doing good. Whenever you see them, they are serving or washing up, praying for someone, encouraging others, offering to take food to the sick, or doing some other kind act. They give generously to the work of the church and to charity. They do all these things with such grace and enthusiasm. I am always encouraged and challenged by their example. They never seem to tire of doing good.

In our society, the term ‘do-gooder’ or ‘good-good’, has become pejorative; it is used as an insult. But doing good should not be seen in this way. When people do good, they shouldn’t be mocked or made fun of. Jesus, ‘went around doing good’ (Acts 10:38). St Paul writes to Titus, ‘Remind the people… to be ready to do whatever is good’ (Titus 3:1). His desire is that those who have trusted in God ‘devote themselves to doing what is good’ (vv.8,14). Your trust in God is not only seen when you pray, but it is seen when you do good. God is good so for every time we are good we are participating in God’s goodness and in participating in God’s goodness we express our trust and confidence in him. We should do all the good we can, even when we have to sometimes inconvenience ourselves.

The opposite of doing good is doing evil. The psalmist is determined to do good. That is why he says, ‘Away from me, you evildoers’ (Ps 119: 115a). The evildoers are ‘double-minded’ (Ps 119: 113). They stray from God’s decrees and are deceitful (Ps 119:118).

Choose today to avoid evil and do good. One of the ways you can be truly happy and successful is when you do good and love God’s words (vv.113,119). God is your refuge and shield (v.114a). Put your hope in his word (v.114b): ‘I’ll give total allegiance to your definitions of life’ (v.117, MSG). Do good today and love His words.

THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER: In doing good, you are trusting in the Lord.

PRAYERS: Help me to live by your words dear Lord, and the grace to stay away from doing evil and to do good. May it please you to bless the month of November.