Where have all the mirrors gone? It is a shallow metaphor, yes, but it still helps pose a significant question of our times. And that is why is there no more self reflection?
I believe this to be one of the defining problems of the secular and Christian world. I’m not the only one. James, in Ch. 1 Verse 23 and 24, says “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, he goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” What’s interesting about this mirror metaphor is the history. My pastor, Jim White, explained that looking at a mirror was not a small feat back in the time of James’ writing. Mirrors were actually made of copper. So a man had to stand in front of the mirror for quite a long time, almost making assumptions about his appearance before being truly satisfied. What James is saying is that if you are going to spend all of that time in front of the mirror, then you would be a fool to forget what you look like once you go out into the world.
But isn’t this exactly what so many of us do? We constantly talk about how so and so says such mean things and we would never say something like that. Then we turn around and completely annihilate the person we are talking about – committing what is considered by Jesus to be the equivalent of murder. Or look at it from a consumer point of view. Most people are out in the marketplace Monday-Friday. About 80% of that marketplace is service oriented, as much of the manufacturing has moved overseas. Many of you may even field customer complaint calls, or try and make sales to uncaring clients. You complain and moan about all of the things that frustrate you. Then you go to the store and immediately you are a consumer and not a provisioner. Now you have the right to complain if that glass of water gets too low, or your hamburger has pickles on it. What’s changed? Nothing. You see, we take the time to reflect when bad things are done to us. We tell ourselves we would never do that. And as soon as we walk away from the mirror, we forget everything we have just told ourselves.
If you look at the world and its inhabitants, you may have a simple question – why? Why are things the way they are? Why are there so many political shows dedicated to advancing an agenda at any costs through malicious hosts and falsified or stretched reports? Why did America go to war when the reason was not even proven to be true? Why did you click on that website, even though you knew it was wrong?
The answer to all of these questions is somewhat ironic – no one stopped to ask themselves why they are doing these things.
Buying an iPad when you have no savings for retirement and there will be no Social Security doesn’t make a lot of sense. But the whole “not making sense” part only comes into play once you have reflected on the decision.
All actions have consequences. The only way to ever make sure that you want the consequences you are asking for is to do some self reflection. Ask Tiger Woods if it would have been easier and worked out better for him if he had taken 5 minutes to ask himself why he was about to do before he became an adulterer. I’m sure he would tell you that 5 minute conversation could have saved his marriage and his life.
You may be thinking, “Well yeah, but what if you are reflecting and only convince yourself that what you’re doing is right?” This brings me to my next point: you have to self reflect through the Holy Spirit.
We are God made. We cannot separate the two. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Now this is not just referring to the physical aspects of God and man. What is most important here is that part of being created in God’s image is His spirit. He understands us. When you can’t figure something about yourself out, all you need to do is ask him. We can’t fully realize ourselves apart from God. His spirit is the guiding factor in what is right and wrong. He is morality. So when we are reflecting on something, the only way to know what the best decision and right decision is, is to do the same thing the Jesus would do.