“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”
No better time to look deeply at the person you see in the mirror
Because of coronavirus, there are plenty of discussions about masks.
Everyone should be wearing them in public settings.
Cottage industries have popped up making cloth masks for purchase with your favorite NFL or college football team logos.
We will be wearing masks for a long time to come.
While shopping Lowe’s (I don't like to shop but my wife wanted to buy plants to satisfy her green thumb), it was fascinating looking at all the people … and I mean all the people.
In Alabama, we under a safer-at-home order which is more lenient than the stay-at-home. No one at the store was living under either guideline.
Every spot in the parking lot was taken. It was nearly impossible to walk more than few steps without someone directly in your path.
If you didn’t know that we were under specific precautions for the safety of others to lessen the transmission of the virus, you would have thought it was the last Saturday before Christmas.
Soon my attention began to switch to the people’s masks (let’s be honest, it was not going to be on plants), the professional grade, bandana’s used as masks, different colors and sizes and the masks “worn” by Lowe’s employees that never covered their mouths.
But the one thing I noticed about people wearing masks is that you could not see their faces.
If the person were someone who might ordinarily like to smile, you couldn’t tell … everyone looked angry. Some people were angrier than others.
That was easy to figure out. Glares of “don’t mess with my personal space were everywhere.”
But then I started thinking about the personal masks we hide behind (C’mon, it was not going to be on a fall flowering azalea or Texas lilac).
There are several Bible verses where masks are hinted at.
Job 24:15: “The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk … he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed.”
The meaning is straightforward. An adulterer (or sinner) wants to remain hidden from the sin that they have committed or plan to commit.
Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 are identical: “The (teachers of the law) devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
Widows were the most disadvantaged in society during that time with no way to support themselves without the help of others.
Jesus is warning his followers to watch out for those that hide their true selves.
In one instant, teachers of the law are taking advantage of widows, then they show off their righteousness before others.
Those that display a façade of acting according to God’s precepts, yet do not live by those same precepts, will be severely punished.
Isn’t that what we do with masks?
We don’t want people to see our bad side with our weaknesses and flaws exposed. We only want people to see our good side.
In 1996, I covered the Green Bay Packers from mini-camp practices through victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
As the season wore on, the pressure of media coverage grew more intense.
There were players that put on the “game face” around the cameras to act professional, cordial and accommodating.
But when the cameras were off, and the spotlight was not as bright, those players didn’t display godly qualities of loving your neighbor.
The players I respected the most were the ones that acted honorably before the public but also when few people were looking like playing with kids on a playground, helping clean up or teaching a teammate.
The goal is to always display God-like qualities.
Use this time to look behind your own mask. What do you see?
There are many reasons we put on figurative masks.
We try to make ourselves look better. We want to be accepted.
We’re afraid people might not like us if they saw all the blemishes.
But it's OK not to be perfect. God loves us for who we are.
And, there are times when we struggle, when we don’t have it all together.
You could be a husband that is off kilter because of a job, the economy or lack of control.
Or, a wife wrestling with the burden of not being able to do it all with the kids at home, a job and household chores.
You could be an elderly person yearning for physical contact while being isolated.
Or, a frustrated high school senior that doesn’t know how to process your final year that didn’t go the way they planned.
Don’t hide or put up a false front. Break down some of your walls.
If there is something you need to change, pray about it. Seek counsel.
If there are behaviors that you are not proud of, take necessary steps to change them.
Allow others into your life to share the burden and provide healing on your journey to grow closer to Christ.
On a shopping trip, I stumbled on the bargain book bin at Ollie’s and purchased “Hand Me Another Brick – timeless life lessons on leadership” by Charles Swindoll.
The entire book focuses on the leadership Nehemiah displayed and how it figures into leadership in every aspect of our lives even today.
Nehemiah worked long and hard to get in position to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. But after finally arriving, he didn’t begin immediately.
For three days, he went to God. He waited to see what God had planned.
Successful leaders know how to handle themselves in solitude.
It’s not a rush of activity or posturing. That’s not how people earn respect. The famous phrase goes that character is revealed by what you do when no one else is looking.
Are you going to God regularly in your private time with all that you are facing?
Or, are you hiding while unwilling to be unveil your true self?
The person inside the mask is the same one on the outside.
You may be doing some things right. There may be things you are not doing right.
God knows it all anyway. Don’t live with that weight alone.
Don’t hide but come into the light and allow God’s grace to give you unimaginable peace.
Brad Zimanek is the Associate Pastor at Mulder Church in Wetumpka, Alabama. He worked in sports journalism for 32 years prior to answering the call to full-time ministry.