Use Your Mirror, Avoid Embarrassment!
Have you ever been in an important meeting or a big date where you didn’t make absolutely sure that your appearance and hygiene were just right? Of course not! We realize that when we want to make a good impression even something as small as a ketchup stain on a shirt can make a huge difference. This is why experts recommend against ordering a salad on important occasions where a meal is involved. Although one might think that a salad would communicate healthiness and maturity, it’s one of the worst options because of how messy they can be. Not only do the bites tend to be larger, but the chances of lettuce getting stuck in your teeth are very high. You may be saying all the right things, but you can rest assured that people are focusing on that piece of lettuce in your teeth.
Recently I was working out at our local gym here in Denver, CO. This is only about 30 minutes away from Aurora, where the tragic shooting during the premier of the new Batman movie took place just over a month ago.
For my workout outfit that morning I decided to wear a t-shirt from a church youth rally I taught at this spring. The theme of this youth rally was “Who are you?”, so my shirt was green and covered with question marks to communicate this motto. I like to wear this shirt in public since people will usually ask me what it means, and this gives me an opportunity to talk about Christ with them.
As I finished my workout routine the lady behind the front desk made a comment about my shirt, asking if I was making fun of the victims in the recent Aurora shooting (apparently she thought I was dressed up as the “Joker” character). Only then did a light bulb go off in my head that someone might draw a connection between the Batman film and the location I was wearing this shirt. How embarrassing! Apparently I was communicating a message I’d never intended.
The apostle Paul is discussing his desire to remove any suspicion when handling the church’s money when he wrote:
“for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” (2 Corinthians 8:21)
It would have been perfectly legitimate for me to defend my choice of clothing with this woman and give her all the facts on this matter; fight for my innocence. However, regardless of my intentions, her perception was that I was behaving sinfully. Who knows whether other people in the gym that morning perceived a similar message? All I could do was apologize, validate her concern and thank her for pointing out what my wardrobe was communicating.
If you’re anything like me, it’s very frustrating when people misrepresent you…even if it’s an accident. My first urge is to place the burden of change back on them; after all it’s their fault for not investigating the facts before making a judgment. However that attitude misses what Jesus is all about. He wants us not only to honor what God deems as right, but He also wants us to honor what our fellow man sees as right (as long as it’s in harmony with God’s will).
If we are to be lights in this world we must make an effort to analyze what sort of impression we’re giving the lost. This will mean that we need to pay special attention to our public:
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men,” (Romans 12:18). If we really care about lost souls, and the image of Christ, then sometimes we’ll need to forfeit our “rights” in order to honor what is right in the eyes of our fellow man.