RR3: Mirror, Mirror, on My Tongue

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The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

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An Ass once found a Lion’s skin which the hunters had left out in the sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day. In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then every one knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgeling for the fright he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: “Ah, I knew you by your voice.”

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Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool.

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Perhaps my partiality for this fable stems in part from my love for C. S. Lewis’ writing (C. S. Lewis used the image of a donkey in a lion’s skin in his book, The Last Battle).  Perhaps it stems from the fact that I love lions.  But I think that The Ass in the Lion’s Skin caught my attention principally because of its direct applicability to the everyday Christian walk.  Consider Matthew 15:11 and 18: “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man….the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”

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When I read The Ass in the Lion’s Skin these passages immediately came to mind.  And when I looked them up in my Bible, what I read certainly made me step back a bit.  What I say discloses what is in my heart!  When I speak silly words, I unveil my foolish heart.  When I speak slanderous things, I expose the malice in my heart.  When I speak in anger, I exhibit the bitterness in my heart.  No matter what fine, whitewashed, “Christian” façade I may put on, my words remain a perfect reflection of my soul.  Even if my words are untrue, they merely represent the falseness of my heart.

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But here is the beautiful part.  Our words are like two-way mirrors.  So, just as I disclose the filthiness within me by my words, I also expose the beauty of Christ within me by my speech.  When I speak in truth, I reveal the truth of God in my heart.  When I speak in love, I display the love of God in my heart.  Every flicker of my human soul, whether it be my own wickedness, or my Father’s righteousness, reveals itself through my words.  It follows, then, that I can either reveal all that is ugly in my own sinful soul, or I can use my speech to point to my Savior.

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Though I do not typically go in for fables, The Ass in the Lion’s Skin truly helped me to see just how significant my speech can be.  Each syllable that falls from my lips acts as a mirror, reflecting the thoughts of my heart.  This classic fable stands as a poignant reminder for me to listen to my words and examine my heart for any impurities that may lurk in the shadowy corners of my soul.  It serves as yet another opportunity to cry out to my God for help, and reminds me again of just how powerless I am apart from Him.

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~carreen a

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