Seeing as We Are Seen

Self-awareness is incredibly elusive.

After describing the spiritual gift of charity, the apostle Paul observed, “We see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The Greek word translated “glass” in this passage, esoptron (ἔσοπτρον), actually means a mirror, and a mirror made of metal, not of glass. These mirrors produced an image that was helpful but hazy, so the viewer had only a partial idea what they looked like.

But Paul anticipated a time when we would see more clearly: “Now I know in part,” he said; ” but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

God can help us see everything more clearly, especially ourselves. As we grow closer to Him, we understand ourselves better, which in turn empowers us to become better. The Lord gave Moroni the following promise:

If men [and women] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.

Ether 12:27

How is that useful? It’s actually essential if our objective is self-improvement and personal progress. The first step to becoming better than you are today is understanding who you are today.

As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon learned in a vision in 1832, a fundamental characteristic of exalted people is that they “see as they are seen and know as they are known” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:94).

Of course, seeing ourselves more clearly includes recognizing not only our weaknesses but also our strengths. Julene Butler, a former librarian at Brigham Young University, received a patriarchal blessing which listed some of her gifts and talents. Then, the blessing added she had “other gifts which [she would] discover and enjoy.” She said:

I have always been conscious of the fact that I must discover those gifts that are uniquely mine. I believe each of us has a similar quest and that as we pursue it, we are better able to define ourselves and we become more fully prepared for the journey Heavenly Father would have us follow.

To See as We Are Seen,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 9 June 1998

Elder Neal A. Maxwell suggested that good friends can be like “outside auditors” who help us understand our true net worth. “Most of us are dishonest bookkeepers,” he said, and need other people who can be more objective in their evaluation of us. (See “Notwithstanding My Weakness,” General Conference, October 1976 and “Insights from My Life,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 26 October 1976.)

Today, I will strive to see myself more clearly. I will seek the help of the Lord and of close friends to better understand both my weaknesses and my strengths, so that I can serve more effectively and better understand how to improve.

4 thoughts on “Seeing as We Are Seen

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  1. Thank you for the reminder to look to the Lord in all things and not trust in our own understanding. Toxic perfectionism is real and I couldn’t agree more that we need the help of the Lord to see things as they truly are. Joseph and Sidney gave us the example of counseling together to seek understanding, immediately before receiving the vision and I am grateful for the privilege of counseling with you, Paul, as I have received answers while discussing His will with you.

    >

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    1. Thanks for the comment, and I couldn’t agree more. I am grateful for your friendship and for the improved self-perception that has come from your feedback and from your encouragement.

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  2. I love this aand it has helped to see more clearly how God sees me, and to see others the way I am seen not to look upon their weakness but the strength they have.

    On Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 8:00 AM Book of Mormon Study Notes wrote:

    > Paul Anderson posted: ” Self-awareness is incredibly elusive. After > describing the spiritual gift of charity, the apostle Paul observed, “We > see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The Greek word > translated “glass” in this passage, esoptron (ἔσοπτρον), actually m” >

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    1. Thank you for the comment. I’m glad you found the post useful. I agree that when we see ourselves and others as God sees us, we will tend to emphasize the positive, not the negative. Have a great day!

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