“Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11
“The tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’” Luke 18:13
Mac Davis couldn’t “wait to look in the mirror; [he got] better looking each day … It’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” The song reminds me of the other character in the story Jesus told in the book of Luke: the pharisee, “perfect in every way”, but without a mirror to see inside his heart. The pharisee would not “pass” Luther’s test on the Articles of the Apostles’ Creed: “… divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.” “… redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature.” “I cannot, by my own reason or strength …”
The tax collector, on the other hand, needed no mirror to see inside himself. Like David, he knew his soul needed cleansing. Cast away … people living in Turkey and Syria might feel so; or Ukraine; those facing life-threatening illness; seemingly hopeless addictions; prayers seemingly unanswered … our cries for action … save us, now; attitudes we can’t shake – selfishness and greed; prejudice and unkindness. We can’t perform our way to salvation.
I look in the mirror each morning, wondering if there is anything that can be done with “this”. Not my doing. On my bathroom vanity I have a sign: “Start each day with a grateful heart.” In spite of the spots, wrinkles and eyelids that come with age, I am still a child of God. In spite of that rugged reflection, I was made in the image of God. Creams? Isometrics? God’s mercy and grace that will cover up the flaws. I lift my chin with confidence, redeemed by Jesus Christ.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me.” Help us live out your purpose for us as, reflecting your image of love and compassion, treating others as your beloved children. Amen.