I looked, and off in the distance I saw what I thought was a familiar face. Height, weight, shape of face, color of hair, all looked likely except for the clothing.
I didn’t want to get too close, lest a conversation ensue, and I be found with a lack of words.
You see, I have had history with this person. I know folks who think he is patient, never lazy, continually joyful, polite, never a cross word, never gets angry, is completely giving and kind, and is just an all around good person toward God and man.
There are so few like him, as a matter of fact, I know a fellow who commented that he is ‘Nathaniel’ like, an accolade not given to many. The persona is notable, and have been largely impressed with his knowledge on a variety of issues, and the manner in which he carried his points, that even I feel small in his company.
The outward appearance is unassuming, nothing flattering to draw attention, no hardware around the wrist or neck, and a simple haircut; this is a decent man I’m sure, but I still do not want to get too close.
For I have seen this person in the light of day as well as the night, and I know things others do not. I have seen him as impatient, occasionally rude, get angry for no good reason, act selfishly, and if I was to write a report and hand it to they who do not know this, they would cite me as a liar.
But integrity demands we face the notice of conviction; the arrow of honesty always finds the naked truth. That man with the stellar reputation, he who carries an image that is oh so pleasing to most, is weighed in the balance and found to be wanting.
Am I sure? Yep, for that man is me.
Someone remarked not too long ago that to ‘sit alone’ with your thoughts is punishment enough, for that heat seeking truth missile knows the location of every human being. Some will mock, others doubt, and still the rest will disagree, but God says every man is a liar.
This is an indictment of the human heart, taking nothing from the fact that there ARE good people in the world. But morality is not spirituality and herein lies the grand difference. The letter of Paul in Romans chapter seven shows the necessary struggles of a spiritual man.
A gentleman just last week said he ‘will never deny the Lord,’ an idea which has long been proven a falsehood. Even they with the very best of intentions have hung their heads quite low, a man named Peter comes to mind.
Here was a man who admitted ‘thou art the Christ,’ and received praise, while moments later said, ‘I know not this man,’ words etched on the page of time which prove the corruptness of the heart. Notably, I too have found much easier ways to deny the Lord, but not without equal remorse.
How many days float by in which opportunity is presented and we say in our hearts, ‘I know not that man?’ Yet, a glance from He who provides the warming coals reminds us, ‘I know what is in man,’ and in spite of our shortcomings, we are loved no less.
Our friend Peter is not much different from us, and we see his powerful words in Acts to strangers, as well as his letters to like-minded kin.
I suppose the ideal would be to note ‘that man’ in the distance, and by conscious effort, to get a dimmer and dimmer view of him that we do not recognize our ‘old’ selves, with the old clothes.
The more we cogitate and digest scripture, and put into action the good word, that image in our field of vision should fade. He who is off afar should be he who is close. The shadow should perfectly represent the true. Shadows do not lie.
If a friend noticed you and I far away and up close, our images should match. The night person should match the day person, and the shadow of ourselves should be true as a level. Our reputation and our character should be identical.