When we look in the mirror, who do we see?
Clearly, we see ourselves– the face that we presently have. But is that the way we internally see ourselves? Do we maintain a picture of ourselves in our minds as we were when we were younger? Do we see ourselves as older than we really are? Do we really see ourselves exactly as we are?
Many times it is very difficult to be honest with oneself. It is often easier to see ourselves as being something different from what we really are. Sometimes it is self-delusion; other times, hope gone to seed.
James speaks about such a matter in James 1:22-25:
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.
What is James trying to convey? He uses the example of the “natural man” looking in the mirror to help us understand the nature of a person who is only a hearer, or a “professor”, of Jesus. Such a person wakes up in the morning, and looks in the mirror, and sees exactly what looks like. Despite this moment of recognition, he leaves for work and other activities and “forgets” what he really is. He continues to remain in his delusions about himself, blissfully willfully ignorant of his serious deficiencies. Such a one may find reality inconvenient, but woe to him on the day when reality hits hard!
James attests to the importance of honest self-examination, akin to Paul’s exhortation for the same in 2 Corinthians 13:5. While some delusions about oneself may seem harmless, believing that one is in Christ and that one is doing the will of Christ when one actually is not is a dangerous and potentially condemning delusion indeed!
We know from statistics that most Americans believe in God, most Americans believe in Heaven and Hell, and most believe they are going to Heaven. Few are those who will be honest enough with their lifestyle to say, “if I continue as I am I will be condemned.” There will always be an exception or an excuse that people will believe will get them into Heaven. Indeed, there is a sad day coming (cf. Acts 17:30-31)!
We must not think ourselves to be strong; we must look into the Word of God, do God’s will, and then be strong (James 1:21). We must not just think that we are mature because we have been Christians for a number of years; we must look into the Word of God and by constant practice distinguish that which is good from that which is evil (Hebrews 5:14).
So when you look into your spiritual mirror, who ought to be Christ, what do you see? Are you reflecting Him? How dim is the resemblance? Be willing to consider yourself honestly and resolve to abide in the Word of God!