I gave myself a ‘fat lip’ this week, and I didn’t even realise it! I sensed that something was up and then I looked in a mirror and saw what looked like a chocolate streak below my lip. I went to wash it off only to discover it was bruised and my lip itself was swollen. This may seem odd to you, but it is not out of the realm of my experience. Due to a fall I had years ago I have no feeling in my lip or lower face. I can, and have injured myself without knowing it, though this was my first ‘fat lip’. I have often accidently bitten my lip, only to realise I am bleeding because of the taste of blood. I take precautions by regularly rinsing with a non-alcoholic mouthwash to avoid infections.
One of my tests for the health of my lip is to say the name “Jesus”. Try saying his name when you get out of the dentist’s chair and you’ll soon realise what I mean. What I am unaware of is dangerous to me and so I have to make it a habit to check my oral health and take care of problems before they become unmanageable. I’m not complaining, in fact I have learned a lot about spiritual life through this time!
Knowing is always better than not knowing! Awareness of my physical health can help me avoid catastrophe. The same is true on a spiritual level.
I have often wondered at the description of King David as the “apple of God’s eye” a cursory look at his sordid and bloody history indicates that this sobriquet was not given on merit. Rather it was David’s willingness to look at his spiritual state and take remedial steps. His writing in Psalms illustrates his awareness of God’s standards of holiness and his absolute failure to measure up to them. He cries out time and again for mercy.
Confession, after the manner of David, cannot be solely a corporate rhyming off of a General Confession, but must include a personal look in the mirror, and recognition of the flaws we then see. Only then can we take the remedial steps of asking for a cleansing (crying for mercy) and receiving by faith the gracious gift of God.
So many of us are occupied with the Corona Virus and we ought to take all necessary precautions, but the deadliest virus is sin. Like injuries to my mouth and lip, sin is an inevitability. We are fallen people living in a fallen world. A daily examination accompanied by confession and reception of forgiveness is the only way to avoid sin taking hold causing serious consequences that later require more drastic action. I so far have avoided serious infection through a diligent regimen of inspection and remediation. Lent is a good time to develop this same habit in our spiritual lives. This habit will produce life and health in us.
If we say we have no sin, scripture says we are lying and making a mockery of the cross (calling God a liar). Let us purpose to check in our spiritual mirror to ensure that we see the Father’s image there!