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How I Learned to Shift My Perspective From Saint to Sinner in Need of Grace

One Sunday at church, my husband was doing a sermon on perspective. During the sermon, he wanted us to see ourselves as God sees us. That week was communion, so as part of the communion experience, He placed a mirror in front of the bread and juice. As each person came up to receive communion, he challenged us to take a moment to look at ourselves in the mirror. He asked us to ask ourselves, "What do you see when we look in the mirror? Ask the Lord to reveal to you what he sees when he sees you."

As someone who is an introvert, this was tough. I am notorious for seeing the negative rather than the positive. When I went to get the elements, I looked in the mirror. The enemy took it as an opportunity to bring out my inadequacies and whisper lies. "You are a disappointment." "You are a failure. You'll never measure up for God to use you," was what I initially thought. But then I realized that was not how God saw me. "I love you," "You were made for a purpose." "I shed my blood for you" was what the Lord replaced those negative thoughts with.

Mirrors are a reflection of our reality. We can tell ourselves we look a certain way, but the mirror doesn't lie. If we use one of those magnifying mirrors, it can be even worse! If we're honest, we don't always like what we see in the mirror. One side of this mirror magnifies everything. The other side sees things as they are with no magnification. When I look at myself in a mirror, I immediately see my flaws- bags under the eyes, wrinkles, and imperfections in color. On this side of the mirror, I wrote down some of the lies I believed. I have written "unlovable," unaccepted, unworthy, failure." When I saw myself in the mirror in church that day, I immediately began to see those lies within the distorted reality of what I had done. If we're having a bad hair day or notice our skin is not as flawless as it once was, it's easy to get down on ourselves. Because we don't like our reality, Satan can use it as an opportunity to feed us lies. If we don't check those lies against the truth of Scripture, it can distort our reality. We must see ourselves as we truly are, not through a distorted reality.

In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is at a Pharisees' house. They are engaging in idle chit-chat. Maybe they are laughing, enjoying their time together. Then suddenly, a woman appears. No words, no explanation. Just sobbing. And the touch of her hair on his feet: "When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

Jesus then tells Simon a parable about two people who owe a moneylender. One owes significantly less than the other, yet both debts are forgiven. Then Jesus asks Simon which debtor loves the moneylender more. Simon rightly states the man with more debt. "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then, he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

Simon saw the woman as a sinner and himself as a saint. He thinks his sin is insignificant because he's an expert in the law. Yet, the woman identifies her sin and sees herself as a sinner in need of Jesus' forgiveness and love. It's easy to see ourselves as saints who don't need Jesus' love and grace; we sometimes take our relationship with Jesus for granted.

Here are three ways to shift our perspective from a saint to a sinner saved by God's grace:

1. See ourselves as people who need Jesus.

We need Jesus' grace and mercy every day! During your quiet time, be sure to confess your sins regularly. When we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal our sins, we can come to God with a posture of humility rather than pride. When we experience God's grace, it's easier to shift our perspective from pride to humility.

2. See others in the same way.

We need to treat others with love and forgiveness, as we have been forgiven and loved. When we see ourselves in need of grace and forgiveness, it is easy for us to see others in that same light. We cannot claim to love Jesus and not forgive our brothers and sisters. When we see our lives daily through the lens of sinners saved by God's grace rather than a saint who doesn't need God's grace, it's easier to grant that same love and forgiveness to others. We live what we learn. When we are free from our sin, we want to give that to others (even if the offense is heinous.)

3. Participate in behaviors that allow you to see clearly.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Do what you can to remove your plank. Forgive when necessary. Reconcile with a difficult brother or sister in Christ. Extend kindness, goodness, and the other fruits of the Spirit when necessary. Not only will we give God glory, but we will also become more Christlike in the process.

It's easy to see ourselves with the wrong perspective when things are going well. But when life is crumbling around us, we cling to God. When we experience the goodness of God, we can switch our perspective from one of a saint filled with pride to one of a sinner in need of God's grace.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/kieferpix

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.

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