Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. [2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (MSG)]
Writing about Paul’s flawed bronze mirror yesterday reminded me of the mirror I have at the end of our hallway. Unlike ancient mirrors with their unclear image, this mirror is quite clear. Like those ancient mirrors, however, the image it reflects is misleading. Some defect in it makes a person look taller and thinner. Unlike a fun house mirror, this is a slight and pleasant distortion and so subtle that it takes a while to realize that the reflection isn’t quite true.
I’m not sure any of us truly like mirrors. In actuality, most of us would prefer the ancient bronze ones to those unforgiving three-way changing room mirrors. No matter how beautiful we might be, the reflection in a good mirror is brutally honest. I may be able to edit away blemishes, wrinkles, and even pounds with Photoshop but any mirror tells me they’re still there!
As much as we would prefer not looking too closely at our bodies, we are even less likely to enjoy examining our spiritual nature. Moreover, when scrutinizing our character, we would prefer a mirror like the one in my hall—one that makes us look better than we are—to one that provides a frank and candid assessment. When we do inspect ourselves, we minimize our spiritual flaws by excusing the inexcusable, rationalizing the unjustifiable, defending the indefensible, or just plain ignoring the obvious.
Diet, exercise and cosmetic surgery can make some changes in our appearance but there really isn’t a lot we can change about our bodies. No matter what I do, I will never have the added two inches of height and long slender legs I see in my hall mirror; I am what I am—a short old lady! There is, however, much that can be done about our spiritual imperfections and shortcomings—things like anger, vanity, bitterness, hardness of heart, bigotry, pride, scorn, resentment, greed, and lust. Unfortunately, we’re more willing to look closely at other people’s behavior than our own. We’ll use a magnifying glass for them but want to use a mirror like the one in my hall for ourselves. The words “mirror” and “miracle” share the same Latin root of mirari, meaning “to wonder at or admire.” While we’d prefer looking in our spiritual mirrors and admiring what we see, at least for me, there is much that isn’t attractive, let alone admirable.
Forgive us, Father, when we fail to take a thoughtful and honest look at ourselves. Examine us, O Lord, and tell us what is there! Give us eyes willing to see what you see, commitment to making the necessary changes and the power of your Holy Spirit to do it.