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James 1:22-25--Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

A great thing about a mirror is the mirror doesn’t look back. And, even better than that is the mirror can’t talk back. If it could, we might hear comments such as:

Not having a good hair day, are you?”
“Put on a few pounds?”
“That color doesn’t look good on you.”
“Do you realize that outfit makes you look fat?”

The good thing about a mirror that doesn’t look or talk back is that we can look in the mirror and make up our own opinions about how we look. We can see only what we want to see about ourselves, like imagining ourselves thinner than we really are, or that something fits well when it’s really a bit snug.

I tend to stand up straight, pull back my shoulders and tighten my stomach when I’m standing in front of the mirror. If I do notice something about my clothes that I don’t like, I have the opportunity then to change my clothes or to put on something that covers up the body parts with which I am not pleased.
However, during the day if I unexpectedly catch my reflection in a window or mirror, I notice that my shoulders are slumped, my stomach is far from being flat, and I look a whole lot heavier than the person I saw reflected in the mirror just that morning. I see bulges that weren’t there earlier in the day when I was standing erect, and my attempts to hide my flaws fell short. Now they look pretty obvious. And goodness, what happened to my hair?

I think many of us are like this spiritually. As we’re primping ourselves on Sunday mornings, or prior to heading off to a Bible study or church activity, we look into our spiritual mirror and think we look pretty good. We have the proper Bible translation in our hands, we’re dressed appropriately and we’re involved in church activities. We sing, stand and sit as instructed and even participate in the church’s prayer chain. We place our tithe in the offering plate as its being passed, and we might even take notes during the sermon and tell the pastor “good message” as we exit. We sign up to take a meal to a family who has a need and tell someone we’ll pray for them. All in all, we appear to be a Christian that has it all together, and our perception of ourselves is that we are solid spiritual citizens. Well, aren’t we just great!!

While we see ourselves as solid Christians in our personal spiritual mirror, we’d probably be pretty shocked to catch a glimpse of ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror. His mirror reflects what’s really going on in our heart. It sees beyond the religiosity portrayed by our church busyness.

Remember that “solid spiritual citizen” we thought we were? After church services we might complain to our family or friends how certain people dressed or acted during the service. We may criticize a single mother who couldn’t control her children. We may even complain about the pastor’s message being boring or too long, or criticize the choir special. God’s mirror reflects how we treat our family members and co-workers during the week. It even reflects the bulges of haughtiness, an unforgiving heart, bitterness, cattiness, hurtful words, intolerance, impatience and snubbing others who are not in our social class.

Finally, His mirror exposes the absence of personal Bible study, prayer, worship and basking in the presence of Jesus. It reveals the little time, if any, we spend on our relationship with our Lord and Savior. Without that, all we have is a lot show, but no spiritual substance.

You may say, “Thank goodness God doesn’t have a spiritual mirror! That might be too painful to look at.” I hate to tell you this, but God does have a spiritual mirror. It’s called the Bible, God’s Holy Word. In the pages of His Word He reveals His heart as to how He wants us to be, to live and to act; and He clearly calls us out when our actions deviate from those that please Him.

Perhaps that’s a key reason why believers aren’t motivated to spend time in the Bible as they know they should, because it’s not comfortable seeing their flaws or their spiritual flabbiness laid out before them. Just as we may avoid looking at ourselves too closely in a physical mirror because we don’t like what we see, we may decide to avoid God’s mirror, or His Word, altogether. Yes, if we look at His word often and long enough, we will get a glimpse of what we look like in God’s spiritual mirror, and that is not a pretty sight! Seeing ourselves as God sees us is not only uncomfortable and convicting, it also cries out for change. Thus, if we’re unwilling to make changes or to take any action to improve our spiritual state, our spiritual life will continue a downward spiral, while we work hard to keep up the outward pretense of being spiritually mature.

Just as a glimpse in a natural mirror may spur us to eat better or exercise to get rid of the bulges we don’t like, hopefully seeing ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror will motivate us to “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” When we sit in church services and hear the Word, or read it for ourselves and don’t personalize its message, and we walk away unchanged and unaffected, we are “like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”

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