James 1:22-25, 1 Corinthians 13:12 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH AUGUST 2, 2020
Introduction: I have spent a good portion of my life in school. First, 12 years in elementary, junior high and high school, where I learned the basic needs of life. I mastered them fairly well, graduated in the top quarter of the class. Then, several years later, I went back to school. But this time I began to study something that would not only help me through this life, but would also carry me into eternity. Of course, that study was a study of the Bible, of God’s Word. I completed the required work to earn a Master of Ministry degree as well as a Doctoral degree in Theology. Now, I tell you all of that, not to draw attention to what I have accomplished, but to tell you what I have NOT accomplished.
With all of that study, the degrees earned, most of what I studied and learned has been forgotten. Yes, my memory sometimes fails me. So, what this tells us is this – We cannot master the Word – the Word must master us.
The Word of God provides a mirror to help us see ourselves more accurately than we see ourselves and then helps us to act in a manner acceptable to God, and in a manner which brings glory to Him.
In his book, Glorious Finish, Daniel Henderson challenges us to imagine a world without mirrors, reflections, or pictures. There is no way to see how we look to others. Is our hair messy? Are we in need of make-up? Does our beard need trimming? Do these pants make me look fat?
When Jewish people comfort mourners, they cover the mirrors in the house – they see a time of mourning is not the time for vanity.
There are several types of mirrors:
• Vanity Mirrors – reveals appearance – good or flawed
• Full-length Mirrors – big picture; clothes
• Carnival Mirrors –Distorted height and weight appearances
• Rear-view Mirrors – Where we’ve been; who’s behind us
[Mac Davis song: I thought happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror
There is also a mirror which reflects our internal self – the true us
This mirror reflects our Maturity Level – 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
This mirror also reflects our actions – James 1:22-25 22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
In times like we are living right now with the pandemic we have a time to think about how we see ourselves and others – to think about mirrors.
Without Mirrors We Can’t See Our Selves (James 1:24 “For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
We Focus on Others and how we see them. If we are not careful, we will see them with a Judgmental spirit – because we don’t see others as God sees them
Look at an example in Luke 18:11 - “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.’”
Obviously, the Pharisee didn’t look in his mirror. Maybe he did, but forgot what he saw.
So, our neglect of looking in our own mirror can produce judgment against others. Jesus said, in His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:1-3 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
Because we don’t see ourselves as God sees us we might also develop an envious spirit.
But when we properly reflect on the Word of God we are enlightened in several ways.
We see that:
God Loves YOU (John 3:16) and ME – Whosoever; and in Galatians 2:20) – “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live, by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
God Gives Gifts to You AND Me - 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul speaks of varieties of gifts, and varieties of ministries, but the same Spirit and the same Lord; Ephesians 4:12) – Gifts of equipping us to works of service and to the building up of the body of Christ
God made us in His image. We have a mutual dependence – We can depend upon God and we must be sure that God knows He can depend upon us.
Again, when we do not look into the mirror of the Word we see problems without solutions. We see hopelessness and despair.
God allows injustices to happen in the world. One example is the holocaust which killed hundreds of thousands of Jews simply because one mad man decided Jews were less than human. Another injustice is abortion. Multiple thousands of unborn babies are killed simply because they are seen as nothing but tissue, again, less than human. These are problems which God allowed, or allows to continue in the hearts of people.
Are they problems without solutions? There certainly are problems brought on by persons who looked in the mirror and forgot what they saw. But there is a solution. Look in the mirror and see others as God sees them. If we really do that hatred and violence toward people who are different than ourselves could be eliminated.
God wants us to be the solutions to problems. Each of us individually cannot change the world. We can only change ourselves.
But if I change and draw a line in the sand against injustice and for dependence on God, maybe my neighbor, co-worker or friend, or family member will change with me.
Change, after looking in our mirrors starts with ME/US as the people of God.
1 Peter 4:17 tells us this: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
What about the rear view mirror? Without the rear-view mirror we can’t see behind. Of course, we can spend too much time looking back. Happiness isn’t in the rear view mirror, but the rear view mirror can bring on positive and effective changes as we go forward, looking ahead in a different mirror.
Very often where we have been will determine where we will go. When we, as a nation don’t use the rear view mirror – that is to look back at the past – the nation’s roots can be destroyed. The same is true of Biblical history. If we don’t look at our roots – where we can from and where we are now in Christ - we will go and do whatever we want. We will live the lifestyle we desire, rather than what God desires for us.
The Bible looks back, and it looks ahead as well. As we read and know the promises and actions of God we can know that if He did something in the past He will do something again.
If we aren’t aware of the generation behind us, how will we act? We are to make disciples. Those disciples are the people we influence for today Jesus formally or informally – children; neighbors; coworkers.
The Bible reveals and reflects what is real for us. Faith focuses on the unseen- Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
The Bible shows us the way to perfection – which, by the way, means maturity - James 1:25 - “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
The way to perfection is also reflected by acceptable behavior – Psalm 19:14 says: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Going back to my opening statement about how studying to earn a degree often results in study to achieve a grade. In that light we are attempting to master the Bible. I know that much of what I learned at Johnson Bible College and at Master’s International University of Divinity, has escaped my immediate memory. I may be able to recall some bits, however, it may take some additional study and review to fully recall. But, it has taught me that I will never know and recall everything the Bible tells me, but I know where to go to find solutions to life’s problems. I know where the mirror is hanging. I believe it is to our benefit to need to go back to the Word for review because it keeps us in the Word.
So, while I do encourage Bible reading and intense Bible study for all Christians, I would encourage you to let the Bible master you. Don’t try to master the Bible. Let the Bible master you. Let the words in Hebrews 4:12 be your guide.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
I don’t want to become political in any way, but I want to share a sad event with you. Literally, as I was writing this sermon, I just got a news flash on my phone. Now, this news was not from one of the national mainline news organizations. It is from a conservative Christian news source. Here is the headline:
“Black Lives Matter protesters burn Bibles in Portland” Trying to destroy the very thing which has all the answers for the troubles in their lives. Pray for them that they will look in the mirror of their souls and see the eternity to which they are headed.
Again, Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12 - “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
So, this morning, what do you see in your mirror? If you have followed Jesus’ invitation to follow Him by believing He is the Christ, the Savior of the world, and repented of your sin, been baptized into Him, and are walking with Him daily, your mirror should be one which reflects confidence in Him. If you have not, your look in the mirror will reflect your need to be obedient to the message of the Gospel. Today could be the day of your salvation.