On at least two occasions in Scripture (1 Corinthians 13 and James 1) the analogy is used of someone looking in the mirror. The necessity of doing so is readily apparent to most people, hence the reason they are scattered throughout our homes and are found in almost every building one would enter. The individual who ignores their physical features in the mirror is often considered unkempt, sloppy, or lazy because of the apparent unwillingness to make oneself look “presentable.” Nevertheless, as much as this is true from the physical perspective, it is equally true spiritually.
Paul admonished the Corinthians to, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5 ESV). We are to be people who take the time to look in the spiritual mirror and examine who we are, as well as who we are trying to be. This should be done on a regular basis; but of far greater value than the looking is the recognition and response to what is seen.
Take a moment to look into the spiritual mirror of Scripture: what do you see? It does not matter what you see in everyone else, nor does it matter what you think other people see in you; what matters is what you and God see, for you are the only ones who fully and completely see the truth.
When you look into the mirror of the soul: do you see the reflection of God, or Satan? Paul emphasized that we are either servants of one or the other, and the one we choose to serve will be reflected in our lives and in what we see when we look in the mirror. He wrote, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).
The one who looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of God is the one practicing godliness (lit. “God-likeness). The principle of godliness is upholding the standards and teachings of God as the principles and practices of one’s life. It does not mean that one becomes as a god personally, but that one accepts and incorporates the teachings and principles of God into every aspect of life, shaping his life to God’s will. Paul put it this way: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). If I can honestly look in the mirror of God’s Word and see his reflection in the deeds, decisions, and principles of my life: there is safety and security to be found in what I see.
Alternately, if I live after my own ideals and practices, I will not see the reflection of God in the spiritual mirror, but Satan. Satan’s standard is to live life following whatever course you desire. Whatever gives you the most pleasure, the most physical fulfillment, and the greatest “high” is what you should follow (1 John 2:15-16). One will never look into the spiritual mirror and see God reflected in life while they are serving Satan. For one who is reflecting God in their life will not be one who lies, cheats, steals, or otherwise seeks to harm others (Rom. 12:10-18); nor will the servant of God be one who is found trying to explain away why certain principles of God’s Word do not apply in one instance or another. The servant of God will consistently be found upholding God’s standard, not man’s. Additionally, the one who reflects God will not constantly be worried about “what is in it for me,” but will instead be more concerned with whether or not it will benefit another (Phi. 2:3-4; 1 Tim. 6:6-11).
Nevertheless, of even greater importance than what you see in the mirror is what you do with what you see. James proclaimed: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is 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. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jam. 1:22-25).
If you look in the mirror and see the reflection of Satan in your life and in your heart, will you change? The Scriptures are filled with examples of people who were willing to do just that when they “looked in the mirror.” You can too; but only if you are willing to not ignore what you see, instead focusing on fixing the problems. Otherwise, we find ourselves in danger of the judgment promised in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 for those that do not know God and obey the Gospel.
It may also be that one looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of God, but it is imperfect. No man is mistake free; we all have flaws and shortcomings. Therefore, there is the necessity to remember Paul’s lesson of continuing to press toward the mark (Phi. 3:13-14). We may be seeing the right reflection, but that does not mean there is no room for improvement to make the reflection sharper and clearer. Let us never be content with where we are in our service to God, but always striving to do better in our reflection of the standards of his will.
Have you looked in the mirror recently? What did you see? What will you do about it? I cannot answer any of these questions for you, just as you cannot do so for me; but they should ever be in our minds and a part of our decisions with each passing day. May you have a better reflection of God tomorrow than you had today.