I read this verse this morning:
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” I Peter 3: 3, 4
And that phrase “hidden person of the heart” stayed with me.
Some days, I don't like what I see in the mirror. I'm either having a bad hair day or the clothes don't fit anymore. Other days, I'm quite happy with the overall effect. Everything – hair, make-up, accessories and clothes – come together in beautiful harmony; so I walk around mellow and at peace with the world. Then there are those days when I catch a glimpse of the hidden Ruth – the one who stays quiet, thinking secret thoughts that no one is privy to. She pops up from time to time – at the most bizarre, inopportune moments usually – throwing everything for a loop, leaving me bewildered and confused with emotions I never thought I'd feel!
You're probably wondering if I have split personality disorder. Nope. The hidden Ruth is very much me; I just tend to forget and believe that the facade I display to the world is the real me. But God knows the real Ruth, hidden underneath the layers of politeness, nice words and a friendly smile. And He knows when the first unbidden thoughts that come to me are filled with envy (at someone's good fortune), or when they are true joy.
So this hidden Ruth made a couple of appearances recently. Both times, I had heard of different friends' good fortune. Both times, the first thought that clenched my gut and twisted-me-up inside was filled with envy and jealousy. Of course I didn't let hidden Ruth voice her thoughts; I just pasted a smile on my face and said something appropriately encouraging and congratulatory. If you had seen me you'd have thought I was genuinely happy for them.
The first time it happened I thought it was a one-off. I'm not an envious person, I told myself. I'm nice and that was probably a freak thought that the devil put into my mind. (Ha!) Anyway, that isn't the real me. So I brushed it off, until a few days later when the exact same emotions washed over me again and I began to sense a pattern. Which was when I finally allowed myself to see the “hidden person of my heart” – not a pretty picture at all.
I realised that I had only two choices. Either I could continue to delude myself with the idea that I was basically a nice person who had ugly thoughts from time to time, but which wasn't a real problem. Or, I could acknowledge that my hidden person was an envious, selfish, proud person and that this was sin which needed to be dealt with ruthlessly.
I am so grateful that God sees me – the real me – and loves me still. The fact that He showed me and convicted me of my sin is proof that He cares to see that I don't live in delusion. It is painful to admit who I really am, but it is cleansing as well. The hope is that with the dross being removed daily, something that is precious in the sight of my Father will emerge.
So I'm learning to pray as the Psalmist,
“As for me ... I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” Psalm 17:15
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