“Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
“Well… it’s certainly not you”
“Mirror mirror in the trash, why’d you have to be so brash?”
Hearing the truth can make us uncomfortable, and when it’s personal, downright painful. Self reflection isn’t always easy, but easily avoidable.
At a recent hotel stay, the bathroom was equipped with a “magnification mirror”. You know, one of those round mirrors that pulls away from the wall, taunting you as it prepares to reveal every flaw known to mankind. I eased into this experience by looking at the non-magnified side. Yeah, pretty much how I remembered it from yesterday, I thought. Same lines, same wrinkles.
Then I made the mistake of flipping it over. Everything remained blurry until I moved closer to surface. (Like a moth to the flame) The closer I got, the more it looked like a lunar landing. How blissfully naive I was a just few seconds ago!
And if the magnification alone wasn’t enough, someone had the bright idea to add a military grade light to the outer edges. Turn that baby on, and you will go where no man has gone before! Nothing accentuates our imperfections like magnification and light! I’m sure there are those who would find this experience a blessing. I for one, did not.
A casual glance in the mirror, and I’m out the door. Maybe not the best approach, and it has been known to backfire, but that’s my life. I spend less time in front of the mirror than I used to. I assume in part because at 57 I don’t place as much emphasis on my appearance as I did at 17. (Sorry Bj) That, and the old man I see staring back at me kind of creeps me out.
Face time with the mirror isn’t what it used to be.
Did you know the same principle applies to us spiritually? In the 1st Chapter of the book of James, we see our response to the word of God is critical in not only understanding who we truly are, but what brings about change.
Hearing the word only is like a casual glance in the mirror. In that moment, you see yourself clearly. But once you walk away, you forget who you are. Hearing the word only is a superficial experience that brings little to no change, and can actually become a liability. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (I Co 8:1b) It can lead to having a sense of superiority, being arrogant, and having little empathy for others. Being “right” can take precedence over being “loving”.
Becoming a “doer” of the word is like flipping the mirror. You’ll see beyond the surface, and discover things about yourself you never knew. You’ll be strengthened spiritually, but in the process, will also see imperfections. Things that until now, you may have been unaware of. In God’s desire to shape us into the image of Christ, he reveals things in us that need to change, and in some cases, things we would rather not see. And He does that through the word (mirror), and the light (Holy Spirit).
Satan wants nothing more than to keep Christians in a constant state of infancy. As the Apostle Paul said, in a place where we are not able to handle the “meat” of the Word, but continue on “milk”. God wants an army of soldiers, not infants. As newborn babes in Christ, yes, you are to desire the milk of the Word. But there are Christians who have been on the bottle way too long. In Hebrews 5:12, the early church members were chastised because at a time when they ought to be teachers, they were in need of someone teaching them the fundamentals of the faith again. If Satan can keep us from living what we believe, we will not mature in our faith, nor will we be changed into the image of Christ.
And here’s how he’s doing that today.
Have you noticed we now live in a time when as a Christian, society says it’s ok to believe in God, as long as you don’t act on those beliefs? Do you know that salvation is more than just believing in God? The demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19) Faith is what you do, not just what you believe. And what you do reflects what you believe. That’s why faith without works is dead. You can say you believe, but where is the proof? Certainly not in a FaceBook meme, a refrigerator magnet, or a bumper sticker. When people see the way you live, it should be a reflection of what you believe.
Even speaking the name of Jesus in public is being threatened. How long before sharing Jesus with the world is deemed a hate crime? While it’s upsetting hearing the stories of Jesus being banned, I’m reminded of the awesome power in His name! The world hates it, and Satan fights it, because there is no other name under heaven where one can be saved. (Acts 4:12)
If we are going to grow in Christ, we must exercise our faith, live what we believe, and be obedient to the Word. We have to move beyond Sunday sermons, and morning devotionals. When the world tells us to bow, we stand. When it comes to intimidate, we will stand on the words of Jesus who told us not to fear those who can kill the body but not the soul. But fear Him, who can destroy both the body and the soul in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Who do you fear more?
If we are going to be salt and light in the world, we need to grow, and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We must not only understand the necessity of spiritual warfare, but be engaged in it. And that’s not for infants.
Let us be less concerned with the behaviors of others, and more with the condition of our own heart. As Jesus said, be less concerned about the “speck of sawdust” in our brother’s eye, and more about the “plank” in our own.
Time to flip the mirror.