Taking Off Your Mask

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. (Proverbs 11:3)

There are other versions of the bible I could have used for the scripture above, but I chose the NIV (New International Version) simply for the one word – duplicity. Duplicity is deceitfulness in speech or conduct; speaking or acting in two different ways concerning the same matter with intent to deceive; double-dealing or fraudulent. A mask is something used to cover in order to conceal, protect or disguise; something, often a trait, that disguises or conceals.

Many times throughout our lives we wear a mask that we only want others to see. We do not want them to see the bad side of ourselves, our weaknesses, but only see the good side…what everyone else wants us to be. Therefore if we be what everyone else wants us to be we will be accepted, well liked and therefore we will not have any confrontations. The problem with that is there will come a time when you are invited to be some place and some of the people there will want your other persona to be there at the same time. Why then would this be a problem?

1. Because you can’t be yourself and someone else at the same time

2. There will always be someone who will know the truth…who will know the real you

3. You may not want to be that other person anymore

4. There could come a time your mask could slip off and your true self may show

5. God did not intend for you to be one or many people…only yourself

This can turn out to be quite the dilemma if you are use to being the person others want you to be at any given time and you don’t want to be that person anymore but the person whom God intended for you to be. So how do we become the real person God wants us to be as opposed to the person everyone else wants us to be? How do we remove our masks and show our true face?

First let’s look at why people wear masks:

1. Acceptance – Many people want to be accepted for many different reasons and to be accepted we feel we must be what everyone else wants us to be. There are some who have one persona and some who play many roles.

2. Fear – We all fear and worry about what other people think of us (judgment) and if we went through life being put down and rejected that fear will play out and we will put on a mask.

3. They don’t like who they are – Many times we don’t like who we are and try to be other people by copying their characteristics. Sometimes we try to be the perfect person by copying the best characteristics of different people we see. We may look good on the outside but on the inside we still suffer because we know it’s not like us.

4. Trying to hide – Due to different situations in our lives we try to hide our real selves or try to make ourselves look better than we are…smarter, richer, more popular. All this results from a low self esteem.

5. To forget – Many people think if they put on a mask and be someone or something else they won’t have to deal with a painful past or current situation. The problem is that the thoughts will continue to chase us in one way or another and we truly won’t forget.

Job 15:5 (NLT)
Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your words are based on clever deception.

How true this verse is. Our sins do tell our mouths what to say. If my sin is pride, I’m going to puff myself up to others with words of how good, smart, and wonderful I am. If my sin is not accepting responsibility for my actions and blaming others, I’m going to blame other people when I do wrong, never seeing the truth…or just not wanting too.

Ephesians 4:21-25 (NLT)
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.

So how do we remove these masks? This is something only God can help us with but it requires the ripping back of layers and much cleaning and exposing of many things we need to come to terms with and this can result in some very painful memories and situations. Jesus stated the following:

Luke 5:31-32 (NKJV)
Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

This means you must first realize that you are ill…spiritually and emotionally ill and must allow Christ to heal you. If you know you have a disease but try to conceal it and hide it and appear normal what is going to happen? Eventually you will die from that disease when you could have received treatment for it a long time ago when you had the chance. This is a form of pride. God calls us to admit our wrongs:

Jeremiah 3:12-13 (NLT)
“O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful.
I will not be angry with you forever. Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to my voice. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

We must acknowledge our guilt and wrong doings to God. In simple terms – confess and repent! God will take us back and begin the healing process if we are willing to allow Him to work in us which means removing our masks and showing our true selves. Our true self isn’t our old character…we can’t mix the two personas and have to be very careful of this. Sometimes our old self may pop up but we have to surrender that to the Lord and acknowledge that you aren’t that person anymore. When we begin to take off our masks, we have to be aware that those who know you one way are going to begin seeing you another way…your true self…and this may not be easy for them as well but it is something that you must do. If people are use to seeing you agreeable and happy all the time and underneath that mask is someone who doesn’t always agree or isn’t always happy, then that is who they are going to see and must learn to love you through your bad times as well as your good with the love of Christ. Think about how many times you may have tried to take off your mask, tired of the fake covering, wanting to be loved and accepted, but as soon as the mask starts to come off there was judgment. What did you do? Did you slap that mask back on or did you keep it off, working through the problem?

The Lord wants us to learn how to love ourselves and each other with agape love – unselfish love, brotherly love, the true love of Christ and this means we must accept each other as we are…in good times and bad. It’s hard when we don’t find that type of love in the outside world but what about within the church, where we are amongst other Christians? How does this make you feel? Check yourselves…have you ever judged another Christian according to how they were acting on a Sunday? We’ve all done it. Your pastor has preached about it and about praying for them. One major thing we have to realize is that if we do not want to be judged but accepted for our true selves, then we must be able to offer the same thing to others. We must watch our own words and actions very carefully. If we find that one week we cast judgment on someone and the next we are judged by someone, maybe the Lord is trying to tell us something:

Matthew 7:1-2 (NKJV)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

If you want others to allow you to remove your mask and love you and accept you, so must you allow others to remove their masks and you must love and accept them as God fixes them as well as you.

So, in order to remove your mask, you must:

1. First admit you are wearing a mask – realize you are “ill”

2. Acknowledge our wrong doings – confess and repent, handing the mask over to God.

3. Pray for strength, read the Bible and learn what God expects of you. Allow Him to work in you even when it’s painful.

4. Allow others to remove their masks and accept and love them so we can expect the same.

Many times people may not accept these changes or become fearful of them when they see them happening to you but you must keep the mask off. To keep it on is to commit the sin of lies and deception. This doesn’t mean you can rant and rave whenever you want but it does mean that if you mess up, you will still be loved and accepted. For those who chose not to love and accept you then it’s between them and God. You must pray for them and continue to be kind and loving to them through their time of struggle. Cast not one stone upon them though or you will be judged.

By throwing off your mask and allowing the Lord to mold you into the person He wants you to be you will find freedom and the chains of bondage will be broken.

Isaiah 61:1-2 (NKJV)
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts”

Precepts means God’s commandments, direction. We walk in freedom when we seek and follow God’s commandments and directions.

What happens if we choose to keep the mask on? In time our hidden persona or agenda will be revealed in one way or another. We will eventually stumble and fall. God will always shine the light on the truth and bring that which is done in the darkness, into the light. He will eventually expose the lies and reveal the truth. He may not do it right away because He wants to give us the chance to do the right thing. To expose it is not to destroy us but in hopes that we will see the error of our ways, repent and turn away from it,  and begin walking in God’s commandments and direction.

Luke 8:17
“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.”

Seek God now for the strength to remove your mask and allow Christ to change you into the person you were meant to be!

Lord, thank you for the chance to come to you on a daily basis to seek your guidance, your wisdom, your forgiveness and your love. Today, I want to remove the mask I’ve been wearing for so long. I want to be accepted for who I am and not what others want me to be. I want to be who You want me to be. I repent of wearing this mask of deception and ask for your forgiveness. Help me to see myself the way You see me and to walk the way You walk so I can lead others to you. Remove my fears of not being accepted and keep me strong when I’m tempted to grab the mask and hide behind it again. Help me to own up to my wrong doings and to walk it through instead of wanting to run away from the problem. Thank you for always loving me for who I am even when I make mistakes and I ask that you help me to love others through their mistakes when their mask is off. I ask this all in Jesus name…Amen.