THE BOY IN THE MIRROR.
An old Chinese folktale tells the story of a young boy who had never seen a mirror before. One day while the boy was playing outside, his father brought home a mirror and hung it on the wall of the house. Sometime later, after his father had gone back out to the fields to work, the boy came home.
He saw the mirror on the wall but didn't understand what it was. He looked with fascination at the boy in the mirror. He thought his reflection was a boy who had come to play with him. He waved, and the boy in the mirror waved back. He smiled, and the boy in the mirror smiled back. He said, "Let's play!" and the boy in the mirror said, "Let's play!" at the same time.
When the boy walked out of the hut, he looked around for his new friend. But the boy in the mirror did not follow him outside. He waited, and the boy in the mirror did not come. Finally, he began to get upset. He walked back into the house and saw the boy in the mirror, just where he had left him!
"Why will you not come and play?" he said, and the boy in the mirror spoke the same words he did. Then he began to get really mad. He is mocking me! he thought. He is copying everything I say! He frowned in anger, and the boy in the mirror frowned back. He lifted his fist, and the boy in the mirror did the same. Finally, he could not control his anger any longer and threw his fist at the face of the boy in the mirror. Instead of hurting the other boy, though, his punch shattered the mirror and sliced his fist into a bloody mess.
That folktale teaches an important lesson. Our anger often hurts us more than the person at whom we're angry. Bitterness, rage, anger, and harsh words usually bring us more pain and hurt than the people we direct them toward. If you nurse a grudge against someone, you're the one whose happiness is most affected. If you hold bitterness in your heart toward someone, you're more likely to lose sleep or get an upset stomach than the other person.
That's one reason God wants us to learn self-control. It is so much better to control our anger instead of letting our anger control us. That doesn't mean that anger is always wrong (it's right to be angry at evil, for example). But it does mean that self-control is always right.
REFLECT: Do you have trouble controlling your temper? Does your anger ever get out of control? Have you gotten rid of "all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior" (Ephesians 4:31)? If not, are you ready to ask God to help you develop self-control in this area?
PRAY: "Dear God, please help me by your Holy Spirit's power to control my anger instead of letting my anger control me. Make me kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward others, just like you've been toward me."