Mike McElroy

"Gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not."

— Hosea 7:19

Guess what? When I don’t check my blood pressure and adjust my medicine as needed, my blood pressure goes up. I don’t know it until I check it. Also, can you guess whether my weight goes up or down when I don’t weigh on a regular basis?

Correct. My weight goes up, but I don’t know it as long as I avoid the scales and don't keep a record. (Well, there is that matter of my pants shrinking, but never mind that.)

How many mirrors do you have in your house? How many times a day do you look at yourself?

Imagine your hair turning gray, and not knowing that it was changing. Unthinkable for us, but in Bible times, few ordinary people had mirrors, and a still pond or a shiny piece of metal might afford the only glimpse a common person would ever get of himself. I see myself in the mirror every day, but I'm still surprised to see that graying man standing where I'm supposed to be in a photo. How about you? (Yes, I remember the old commercial: “Only your hairdresser knows for sure.” Right.)

The nation of Israel had estranged itself from God through ignoring the Lord and embracing idols. They forsook their covenant and became like their pagan neighbors, despite God's repeated warnings through the prophets. They lost their strength, but didn't realize it. They had gray hair as a testimony to their advancing years, but didn't know their time was passing by. Israel turned deaf ears to the prophets' warnings, and refused to turn back to God. They were running headlong toward doom, and were inattentive to their plight.

You and I live in a land of plenty. We have plenty of everything. We're blessed to have plenty of mirrors, and Bibles. But if we don't read our Bibles and pay attention to what God's word tells us, we will be like Brother Mike with an unused blood pressure monitor or scale. We will be like the ancients who were going gray and didn't realize it.

The Bible reveals our true pitiful condition. We are weak, broken, ruined sinners who have no hope outside of Christ. It tells us about the grace of God that calls us from guilt and shame in sin to forgiveness and godliness in Christ. The Bible shows us what to do and not to do, what to believe and not to believe. But if we refuse to listen to what God tells us, we will be in serious trouble and not know it. So, I'm back to regular blood pressure checks, weighing nearly every day, and feeling much better. My hair is still quite gray, but I know it is, and it's okay. When it comes to spiritual monitoring, let's not be like ancient Israel--helpless, weak and doomed because they wouldn't pay attention to what God told them. Let's be like the blessed person James describes: "But the one who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:25).

“Ignorance is bliss,” according to the old saying. But that saying isn’t true about much. It’s just plain wrong about matters of physical health and spiritual well-being. We see our true selves when we're willing to take an honest look in the mirror of God's word. Praise God for showing us not only how bad off we are in sin, but also how well off and blessed we can be when we humble ourselves and surrender to the Lord.

Mike McElroy is a regular faith columnist for The Tribune.