Roger looked at himself in one of the gym mirrors hanging on the wall. He thought to himself, “Not bad.”
He was a regular at the local gym where he worked out religiously from 5-7 a.m. seven days a week. The only problem was that regardless of his workout regimen, he was still soft and girthy in the stomach, and a little flabby in the triceps. To himself, however, he thought he looked pretty good.
He took a look at himself from behind in the mirrors hanging on the opposite wall. He did a little flex of his back combined with an exaggerated pooching out of his broad backside. He smiled a bit as he thought once again, “Not bad. Not bad at all.” He paced back-and-forth watching his skinny leg muscles flex with each step. Every time he looked in one of the mirrors after an exercise routine, it was always the same self-pleasing thought, “Not bad.”
Of course, it was not just mirrors that evoked the good-feeling self-perspectives. Reflections of his self from any source provided the same. He would always turn to look at his reflection in the store windows as he walked by, and it was always the same, “Not bad.”
Times were that he would see his shadow and think, “Not bad.” He just did not look bad to himself in any reflection whether at home, the gym, or downtown.
One morning as he entered, Roger noticed a new guy in the gym. It was just the two of them that morning in the gym. The other man proved to be a distraction to Roger. Every time Roger would start to eyeball himself in a mirror after an exercise set, he would notice the other man watching him in the reflection. It was upsetting to Roger because he was not able to register any of his reflective “not bads” about his image.
Eventually, Roger walked over to the man, who remained seated on the seat of a leg-curl machine. Extending his hand, Roger introduced himself. “What is your name?” Roger asked.
The man did not give a name, but said, “Do you like what you see?”
Roger countered with, “Do I like to see what?” But, he knew exactly that he had been seen trying to look at himself in the mirrors.
“Do you like what you see about yourself in the mirror reflections?” the man replied. “We are easily deluded about ourselves if we keep looking in the wrong mirrors. These types of mirrors often fool us and give our ego a false sense of well-being, you know. You have never looked into the most accurate mirror of all, have you?”
“What mirror would that be?” Roger asked conveying a deliberate attitude of non-interest.
The man reached down into the large duffle bag beside the seat, and retrieved a sizeable book-like object. He held it in front of Roger, and, as he began to open it, Roger could see that, indeed, inside was a mirror. The man turned it around and upright for Roger to see into.
The image Roger saw was grotesque and distorted, but it was apparently his self. It was bad. As Roger peered harder, a 10-point list was manifested from behind his reflection. He starting reading slowly the points out loud, “Thou shalt not have any gods before me…” After reading the last point “Thou shalt not covet,” Roger exclaimed as conviction cornered him, “Hey — what kind of mirror is this?”
The man closed up the mirror, and on the front were the words “Holy Bible.” The man continued, “It is important most of all to look in this mirror to get a true look of yourself from God’s perspective. The breaking of God’s Law makes one look bad in God’s sight.”
The man pulled out a copy of the Bible, and handed it to Roger as a gift. From that point, Roger never stopped looking into the mirror of it. It made him right and kept him right with God.
“Not bad,” he often thought.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.