In England, as in many other countries, wearing a face mask is compulsory in a variety of situations. There is a wide variety of designs but the same purpose is behind every mask – to cover up, hide and protect.
The specific word ‘mask’ is rarely used in the Bible, but the concepts behind the word are repeatedly highlighted and challenged in the expression double-mindedness. We’ve all worn masks at one time or another. Sometimes we are unaware of wearing them, and other times we deliberately put on our mask for a variety of reasons. It could be that we want to look good, to make a good impression, to make others think we have it all together, to impress and please people, to feel more acceptable or to hide our true self. Inside we feel shame, confusion, rejection, inadequacy, helplessness and many other uncomfortable emotions.
Paul’s motive for writing the above text was firstly to explain the good news about Jesus – a task we’re all called to do. Paul did this with integrity and purity. He had no cover-up. He was his true self. So, the Holy Spirit could take hold of him, fill him and use him in a wonderful way. The Holy Spirit, who used Paul, also has a unique calling on each of our lives. We need to be real, to stop hiding and protecting ourselves with our mask. Then He is able to fill us and make us shine as lights in this dark world.
The motives behind the mask are highlighted by the words used in our text. When we wear masks (often a different one for each unique situation), we become people pleasers instead of God pleasers. There can be no compromise. We are on one side or the other. There is no middle line. People pleasers get trapped in a world of insecurity and confusion. They miss the incredible joy of living to please the One who is worthy of the love of our hearts. Wearing a mask enables us to use flattery, so we can get in the good books of those we want to accept us or praise us. However, it doesn’t satisfy, or deal with, the hidden emotions of rejection and shame – wounds of the heart which only Jesus can heal.
We live in a deeply troubled world which lacks security, peace, transparency and integrity, a world where ‘men’s hearts are failing them for fear’ (Luke 21:26). Have you ever thought that our loving Saviour may be calling us to surrender any mask we may be wearing? We can then be a true reflection of Jesus, having experienced the unconditional and undeserved love which He demonstrated on the cross. ‘He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised’ (2 Corinthians 5:4-15).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the times when I have hidden wrong motives in my heart and have centred more on pleasing myself than on pleasing You. I acknowledge that many times I fail to recognise the ungodly heart attitudes that are masked over. I know I cannot change myself. In the name of Jesus I ask that Your Holy Spirit will confront me with the truth that will set me free, cleanse the attitudes of my heart and fill me with passion for Jesus. Amen.
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