Have you ever used your smartphone to take a selfie? (That’s a self-portrait in today’s lingo) If you have, then you know that whatever body part is closest to the camera appears most prominently in the picture. Even the smallest imperfections can loom large under the unforgiving camera lens, and when we look at the picture we can be shocked and dismayed. A mole can become a mountain, a nose the rock of Gibraltar, and we can become obsessed by the desire to do something, do anything to change the unflattering things we see.
When we pull away from the camera, the things that seemed so obvious fade significantly. The mole becomes a beauty mark, and the nose is cute once again. It’s really all a matter of perspective: What we focus on dominates our thoughts. If we spend all of our time thinking about our failures, they will become the largest and most prominent features of our lives. To engage in the “paralysis of analysis” of past mistakes only magnifies them and causes them to consume our thinking. Paul understood this when he wrote “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.* I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”
He could have become consumed with his weaknesses and failures to the point that God could not use him. His focus might have turned to what others thought of him and caused him to withdraw from life. Instead, he embraced this truth “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.” (1 Cor 4:3) Paul realized it was a waste of time to continually put his life under the camera and magnify his weakness. He chose not to judge himself.
That is not to say he tolerated sin in his life. If he made a mistake he received forgiveness from God, forgave himself and moved forward. “…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” (Phil 3:13) Adopting his attitude, let’s not “selfie” our lives so much that we magnify our faults and become mired in the past. In God’s eyes, His camera, we are one with Jesus. If we focus on Him, what we see is forgiveness, acceptance, and success. Our past is forgotten, and the new self-portrait looks beautiful. That is something worth celebrating!