James 1:23-24, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”
Before my last trip abroad, I realized I needed to buy some new pants. I try to get as much use out of a pair of pants as I possibly can, but as my wife is fond of saying, ‘when they start to shine from all the use, it’s time to buy a new pair.’
Shopping has never been one of my favorite things. I like most men, don’t really enjoy going through all the isles of hanging attire, I am unconcerned with whether or not the colors complement each other, and as long as I find something in my size, I am more than happy to wear it until the threading starts to come apart.
I had put it off for as long as I could, until finally one afternoon I went to the local department store in search of a new pair of pants. I am not adventurous when it comes to clothing, so I found a pair of black slacks, went into the fitting room, put them on, and then came outside to inspect in the store mirror.
To my pleasant surprise the pants looked fantastic. I turned one way, then the other, beginning to believe the old adage that the clothes make the man. I looked good, better than I remembered myself, and with a smile on my face I went to the cashier and paid for the pair of slacks.
On the drive home I began thinking to myself that I really hadn’t done anything new with my diet, I hadn’t changed anything in my regimen, but it did seem as though I was thinning out around the middle, at least that was what my reflection in the department store mirror was telling me.
I got home and excited told my wife I had finally given in and bought some pants, and they looked really good on me. ‘Go try them on she said’, smiling, I went into the bathroom and put on my new pants. Before reemerging I threw a quick glance at myself in the bathroom mirror and was stunned to see that my reflection was very different than I remembered it at the store.
I hadn’t thinned out after all, and what I had seen in the department store mirror had been nothing more than an optical illusion. I came out of the bathroom in my new slacks, and my wife said, ‘they’re nice, but what’s so special about them?’
‘They looked better on me at the store’, I answered.
‘I guess you looked at yourself in one of the skinny mirrors’, she said smiling. When I inquired what a ‘skinny mirror’ was, she informed me that in some stores there are mirrors that make people’s appearance seem more flattering than it is in reality. A person can go and try on a pair of pants, or a shirt, and looking at him or herself in the mirror sees something more than what is actually there, or in my case, less than what was actually there. Apparently seeing themselves in a whole new light, or seeing themselves different than how they truly look makes people more likely to buy the item of clothing that they are trying on.
Although not criminal, I believe this practice to be shady and manipulative to say the least. What is more disturbing is that this same custom is being practiced by countless preachers and teachers of the Word today. They present a gospel that is not a true gospel, and so by their omission of truth hold up a ‘skinny mirror’ in front of countless souls who looking at their reflection begin to reason with themselves, that they are actually pretty good.
The crowds flock, the applause is plentiful, because people begin to see themselves in a new light, a better light, a more flattering light than ever before due to the words that they are hearing from behind the pulpit. They look at their reflections, and even though they are different than what they remember them to be they reason to themselves that mirrors can’t lie, a mirror always tells the truth, so they must not be remembering correctly.
The danger of this practice, the danger of being presented with a skewed gospel and a ‘skinny mirror’, is that sooner or later you get home, sooner or later you are confronted with your own mirror, one that has not been altered one that was not engineered to reflect something that was not there, and your heart sinks because you realize that you do in fact look like you remembered yourself, and the mirror did in fact lie. The reflection was not your own.
More and more people are beginning to go to the mirror of God’s word today, because even though the reflection they saw was flattering in the mirror that was held up for them at church, something deep within their hearts kept telling them that things were not as they seemed.
The mirror of God’s word does not mask flaws, it does not airbrush wrinkles, and it does not whitewash sin. The mirror of God’s word shows the reflection of our soul as it is, because it is more loving to reveal a necessary truth that may hurt someone’s feelings, than to mask it in order to spare them.
If one were to go to a doctor who would continually tell them that they were in the best of health while in reality the suffered from a terminal yet treatable disease, would anyone in the world consider that doctor loving, kind, or merciful? Then why is it that we praise men who do just that on a daily basis? Why is it that men who do not preach repentance, righteousness, or sanctification are so beloved in this present generation when in reality their actions, their teachings and their willful omission of the truth are leading people to eternal torment?
Yes, some of the blame falls on the hearer, those who no longer endure sound doctrine, those who do according to their own desires, those who have itching ears and turn away from the truth, but this does not mean that we should omit the truth in order to cater to them. Those who feed the sheep are as culpable if not more so for leading the sheep astray, than the sheep who refuse to receive the truth of God’s holy word.
There is a sure remedy for the spiritual ‘skinny mirror’, and that is sincerely, honestly and openly looking into the real mirror of God’s holy Word. It may not be as flattering a reflection as looking into the diluted word of God, but it will be true, and real, and honest. There is still time to fall on our faces before the cross, there is still time to do away with those things that we know hinder our walk and relationship with the Father, but time is running out, and soon we will stand before the eternal King of all that is. Stripped of all the flattering perceptions of ourselves, we will stand before a holy God as we truly are, and the only means by which we will be welcomed into His eternal kingdom is to be found washed and made clean by the blood of His beloved Son Jesus.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.